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Posted on: January 27, 2021

AUTO REVIEW OF CONFIDENTIAL INFO ENDS JULY 1

Confidential info file covered by with banned symbol, circle with angled slash through it

As of July 1, clerks of court no longer will review civil filings to screen out (redact) confidential information before putting those documents in public court files.

This important function, in effect since 2010, has been rescinded by order of the Florida Supreme Court, leaving the responsibility entirely up to lawyers to shield their clients' protected information.

From The Florida Bar News

The Supreme Court on January 21, acting on its own motion, amended Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420, which governs access to court records, to end the independent duty of clerks — separate from filing attorneys — to review civil and small claims filings, and identify and remove sensitive personal information that is protected under the rule.

The rule, adopted originally in 2010, mandates that “[t]he clerk’s responsibility under the [rule] is independent of the responsibility of the filer.”

Since that provision was adopted, “news media organizations in Florida have reported concerning delays in their access to nonconfidential court records, in part due to the requirement that the clerks of court independently review all new filings for confidential information,” the court said in its unanimous per curiam opinion.

“Accordingly, to address timely access to court records, we now amend subdivision (d)(1) to provide that, in certain civil cases, the clerk of court does not have an independent responsibility to identify and designate information as confidential. Instead, that is the sole responsibility of the filer.”

The opinion said civil circuit, civil county, and small claims cases are covered by the amended rule. The amendment won praise from the news media, but concerns from clerks and others.

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