Pennsylvania’s New Judicial Public Access and Redaction Policy Impacts Filings in Orphans’ Court

On January 6, 2018, new policies will affect Orphans’ Court practitioners who are filing or seeking access to court documents in Pennsylvania. By prior order of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the new policy titled, “Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania:  Case Records of the Appellate and Trial Courts”(the “Policy”), limits the ability to access and review certain information deemed personal and confidential. You can access the policy here. Key aspects of the Policy are Sections 7.0 and 8.0.

Pursuant to Paragraph A of Section 7.0, the following information is confidential and shall not be included in any document filed with a court or custodian, except on a Confidential Information Form filed contemporaneously with the document:

  1. Social Security Numbers;
  2. Financial Account Numbers, except an active financial account number may be identified by the last four digits when the financial account is the subject of the case and cannot otherwise be identified;
  3. Driver License Numbers;
  4. State Identification (SID) Numbers;
  5. Minors’ names and dates of birth except when a minor is charged as a defendant in a criminal matter (see 42 Pa.C.S. § 6355); and
  6. Abuse victim’s address and other contact information, including employer’s name, address and work schedule, in family court actions as defined by Pa.R.C.P. No. 1931(a), except for victim’s name.

Pursuant to Paragraph A of Section 8.0 of the Policy, the following documents are confidential and shall be filed with a court or custodian under a cover sheet designated “Confidential Document Form”:

  1. Financial Source Documents;
  2. Minors’ educational records;
  3. Medical/Psychological records;
  4. Children and Youth Services’ records;
  5. Marital Property Inventory and Pre-Trial Statement as provided in Pa.R.C.P. No. 1920.33;
  6. Income and Expense Statement as provided in Pa.R.C.P. No. 1910.27(c); and
  7. Agreements between the parties as used in 23 Pa.C.S. §3105.