WSR 05-13-019

RULES OF COURT

STATE SUPREME COURT


[ June 2, 2005 ]

IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF THE AMENDMENTS TO GR 15 AND GR 22 )

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ORDER

NO. 25700-A-819


The Judicial Information System Committee having recommended the adoption of the proposed amendments to GR 15 and GR 22, and the Court having approved the proposed amendments for publication;

Now, therefore, it is hereby

ORDERED:

(a) That pursuant to the provisions of GR 9(g), the proposed amendments as attached hereto are to be published for comment in the Washington Reports, Washington Register, Washington State Bar Association and Office of the Administrator for the Court's websites expeditiously.

(b) The purpose statement as required by GR 9(e), is published solely for the information of the Bench, Bar and other interested parties.

(c) Comments are to be submitted to the Clerk of the Supreme Court by either U.S. Mail or Internet E-Mail by no later than 90 days from the published date. Comments may be sent to the following addresses: P.O. Box 40929, Olympia, Washington 98504-0929, or Lisa.Bausch@courts.wa.gov. Comments submitted by e-mail message must be limited to 1500 words.

DATED at Olympia, Washington this 2nd day of June 2005.
For the Court
Gerry L. Alexander

Chief Justice



GR 9 COVER SHEET



Suggested Amendments to GR 15

Submitted by the Judicial Information System Committee



Purpose: The Judicial Information Systems Committee (JISC) is proposing amendments to GR 15, Destruction and Sealing of Court Records. In recent years several interested parties and organizations have raised concerns and suggested changes to GR 15. The rule has been criticized as giving insufficient guidance to the trial courts and trial attorneys. In response to these concerns and issues, a work group was formed in October 2003 to draft amendments to GR 15.

The work group consisted of several judges, lawyers, court clerks, a court commissioner, and a representative from the media. This work group met on several occasions and discussed and debated several drafts of the rule. After approval of a final draft, the work group forwarded the amendments to the JISC. The JISC added references to redaction of a court record and unanimously voted to forward the amendments to the Supreme Court Rules Committee for adoption.

The following changes to GR 15 are being proposed in this suggested draft. These changes are:

"Court record" is defined and used throughout for consistency with GR 31. The definition is the same definition used in GR 31. See suggested GR 15 (b)(1).

"Court file" is defined as "the clerk's papers including the pleadings, orders, and other papers filed with the clerk of the court under a single or consolidated cause number(s)." See suggested GR 15 (b)(2).

The definition of "seal" was simplified. See suggested GR 15 (b)(4). Changes in the sealing procedures have been specified. The sealed file will not be available to the public, but the sealing order will be available. The court must enter written findings that justify the sealing of a court record. Agreement of the parties alone is neither a compelling circumstance nor a sufficient basis to seal a court record. See suggested GR 15(c).

"Redaction" was added to the rule and treated similarly to "seal." This is in response to the Supreme Court's recent decision in Dreiling v. Jain, 151 Wn.2d 900, 93 P.3d 861 (2004), holding that "the least restrictive means" should be used for restricting access to a court record. See suggested GR 15 (b)(5) and (c).

Vacated criminal convictions were addressed separately in response to RCW 9.94A.230(3) and the Supreme Court's interpretation of this statute in State v. Breazeale, 144 Wn. 2d 829, 837-838, 31 P.3rd 1155, 1159 (2001). See suggested GR 15(d).

If a person is charged with a new crime or a sexually violent predator petition is filed, sealing of a vacated criminal conviction may be nullified. See suggested GR 15 (e)(2)(A)(B).

In civil cases, notice for unsealing is waived if good faith effort to locate party is unsuccessful. See suggested GR 15 (e)(3).

Because of changing technology, the term microfilming was deleted and the section on non-paper sealed records broadened. See suggested GR 15(f).

The sections on sealing and destruction have been separated to simplify and to give better guidance. See suggested GR 15(h).

Accounting records shall not be destroyed; rather the records shall be sealed. This provision was added to address the need for availability of accounting records for audits. See suggested GR 15 (h)(3)(B).

1 See e.g Dreiling v. Jain, 151 Wn.2d 900, 912 (2004).


RULE GR 15

DESTRUCTION, AND SEALING, AND REDACTION OF COURT RECORDS



(a) Purpose and Scope of the Rule. This rule sets forth a uniform procedure for the destruction, and sealing, and redaction of court files, cases, records, or specified documents or material in a court file or record at all court levels records. This rule shall apply to court files, cases, records, documents, or materials in any form or format, including but not limited to hard copy, microfilm, microfiche, and automated information system format. The clerk shall maintain all documents and materials filed with the court, and shall make available for public examination all files, cases, records, documents, or materials which have not been ordered destroyed or sealed. applies to all court records, regardless of the physical form of the court record, the method of recording the court record, or the method of storage of the court record.

(b) Definitions and Construction of Terms.

(1) "Court file" means the pleadings, orders, and other papers filed with the clerk of the court under a single or consolidated cause number(s).

(2) "Court record" is defined in GR 31 (c)(4).

(23) Destroy. To destroy means to obliterate a court file, case, document, or material record or file in such a way as to make it permanently irretrievable. A motion or order to expunge shall be treated as a motion or order to destroy.

(14) Seal. To seal means to protect from examination by the public or non and unauthorized court personnel. Sealing of a hard copy, microfilm, or microfiche is accomplished by enclosing with a fastening which must be broken before access can be obtained. Sealing of an automated information system file or record is accomplished by restricting access to authorized court personnel only. The existence of a sealed file, unless protected by statute, is available for viewing by the public on court indices, but is limited to the case number, names of the parties, the notation "case sealed", the case type in civil cases and the cause of action or charge in criminal cases. The contents of sealed documents or records within a case are not available for viewing by the public. Sealed files, documents or records may be examined by the public only after the files, documents, or records have been ordered unsealed pursuant to section (d) of this rule. A motion or order to delete, purge, remove, excise, erase, or redact shall be treated as a motion or order to seal.

(5) Redact. To redact means to protect from examination by the public and unauthorized court personnel a portion or portions or a specified court record.

(6) Restricted Personal Identifiers are defined in GR 22 (b)(6).

(7)(35) Strike. A motion or order to strike is not a motion or order to seal or destroy.

(8)(6) Vacate. To vacate means to nullify or cancel.

(c) Grounds and Procedure for Requesting the Sealing or Destruction of Court Records.

(1) Criminal Cases or Juvenile Proceedings.

(A) Destruction of Files or Records. On motion of any interested person in a criminal case or juvenile proceeding, or on the court's own motion, and after a hearing, the court may order the files and records in the proceeding, or any part thereof, to be destroyed if the court finds that such action is expressly permitted by statute. Reasonable notice of the hearing shall be given to: (1) the prosecuting authority of the city or county; (2) the affected adult or juvenile defendant; (3) the victim, if ascertainable; and (4) the person or agency having probationary, custodial, community placement, or community supervision over the affected adult or juvenile defendant. This subsection (c)(1)(A) shall not preclude the routine destruction of documents pursuant to applicable retention schedules.

(B) Sealing of Files and Records. Subject to the provisions of RCW 4.24 and CR 26(j), on motion of any interested person in a criminal case or juvenile proceeding, or on the court's own motion, and after a hearing, the court may order the files and records in the proceeding, or any part thereof, to be sealed if the court finds that such action is expressly permitted by statute or that there are compelling circumstances requiring such action. Reasonable notice of the hearing shall be given by the moving party to: (1) the prosecuting authority of the city or county; (2) the affected adult or juvenile defendant; (3) the victim, if ascertainable; and (4) the person or agency having probationary, custodial, community placement, or community supervision over the affected adult or juvenile defendant.

(2) Civil Cases.

(A) Destruction of Files or Records. After entry of final judgment, no civil case file or any part thereof may be destroyed, except after files have been microfilmed as provided in RCW 36.23.065. Before entry of final judgment, civil case files or parts thereof may be destroyed only if the destruction is expressly permitted by statute. This subsection (c)(2)(A) shall not preclude the routine destruction of documents pursuant to applicable retention schedules.

(B) Sealing of Files or Records. On motion of any party to a civil proceeding, or on the court's own motion, and after reasonable notice to the nonmoving party and a hearing, the court may order the sealing of any files and records in the proceeding (i) to further an order entered under CR 12(f) or a protective order entered under CR 26(c); or (ii) under compelling circumstances where justice so requires.

(c) Sealing or Redacting Court Records

(1) In a civil case, the court or any party may request a hearing to seal or redact the court records. In a criminal case or juvenile proceeding, the court, any party, or any interested person may request a hearing to seal or redact the court records. Reasonable notice of a hearing to seal must be given to all parties in the case. In a criminal case, reasonable notice of a hearing to seal or redact must also be given to the victim, if ascertainable, and the person or agency having probationary, custodial, community placement, or community supervision over the affected adult or juvenile defendant.

(2) After the hearing, the court may order the court files and records in the proceeding, or any part thereof, to be sealed or redacted if the court makes and enters written findings that the specific sealing or redaction is justified by privacy or safety concerns that outweigh the public interest in access to the court record. Agreement of the parties alone does not constitute a sufficient basis for the sealing or redaction of court records. Sufficient privacy or safety concerns that may be weighed against the public interest include findings that:

(A) The sealing or redaction is permitted by statute; or

(B) The sealing or redaction furthers an order entered under CR 12(f) or a protective order entered under CR 26(c); or

(C) A conviction has been vacated; or

(D) The sealing or redaction furthers an order entered pursuant to RCW 4.24.611; or

(E) The redaction includes only restricted personal identifiers contained in the court record; or

(F) Another identified compelling circumstances exists that requires the sealing or redaction.

(3) A court record shall not be sealed under this section when redaction will adequately resolve the issues before the court pursuant to subsection (2) above.

(4) Sealing of Entire Court File. When the clerk receives a court order to seal the entire court file, the clerk shall seal the court file and secure it from public access. All court records filed thereafter shall also be sealed unless otherwise ordered. The existence of a court file sealed in its entirety, unless protected by statute, is available for viewing by the public on court indices. The information on the court indices is limited to the case number, names of the parties, the notation "case sealed," the case type and cause of action in civil cases and the cause of action or charge in criminal cases, except where the conviction in a criminal case has been vacated, section (d) shall apply. The order to seal and written findings supporting the order to seal shall also remain accessible to the public, unless protected by statute.

(5) Sealing of Specified Court Records. When the clerk receives a court order to seal specified court records the clerk shall:

(A) On the docket, preserve the docket code, document title, document or subdocument number and date of the original court records;

(B) Remove the specified court records, seal them, and return them to the file under seal or store separately. The clerk shall substitute a filler sheet for the removed sealed court record. In the event the-If the court record ordered sealed exists in a microfilm, microfiche or other storage medium form other than paper, the clerk shall limit restrict access to the alternate storage medium so as to prevent unauthorized viewing of the sealed court record; and

(C) File the order to seal and the written findings supporting the order to seal. Both shall be accessible to the public.

(D) Before a court file is made available for examination, the clerk shall prevent access to the sealed court records.

(6) Procedures for Redacted Court Records. When a court record is redacted pursuant to a court order, the original court record shall be replaced in the public court file by the redacted copy. The redacted copy shall be provided by the moving party. The original unredacted court record shall be sealed following the procedures set forth in (c)(5).

(d) Procedures for Vacated Criminal Convictions. In cases where a criminal conviction has been vacated and an order to seal entered, the information in the public court indices shall be limited to the case number, case type with the notation "DV" if the case involved domestic violence, the defendant's name, and the notation "vacated."

(de) Grounds and Procedure for Requesting the Unsealing of Sealed Records.

(1) Sealed court records may be examined by the public only after the court records have been ordered unsealed pursuant to this section or after entry of a court order allowing access to a sealed court record.

(12) Criminal Cases. After the entry of an order to seal all or part of a court file in a criminal proceeding, the A sealed court records in a criminal case sealed shall be ordered unsealed only upon proof of compelling circumstances, unless otherwise provided by statute, and only upon motion and written notice to the persons entitled to notice under subsection (c)(1) of this rule except:

(A) If a new criminal charge is filed and the existence of the conviction contained in a sealed record is an element of the new offense, or would constitute a statutory sentencing enhancement, or provide the basis for an exceptional sentence, upon application of the prosecuting attorney the court shall nullify the sealing order in the prior sealed case(s).

(B) If a petition is filed alleging that a person is a sexually violent predator, upon application of the prosecuting attorney the court shall nullify the sealing order as to all prior criminal records of that individual.

(23) Civil Cases. After the entry of an order to seal all or part of a court file in a civil proceeding, the records A sealed court record in a civil case shall be ordered unsealed only upon stipulation of all parties or upon motion and written notice to all parties and proof of compelling circumstances, or pursuant to RCW 4.24 or CR 26(j). If the person seeking access cannot locate a party to provide the notice required by this rule, after making a good faith reasonable effort to provide such notice as required by the Superior Court Rules, an affidavit may be filed with the court setting forth the efforts to locate the party and requesting waiver of the notice provision of this rule. The court may waive the notice requirement of this rule if the court finds that further good faith efforts to locate the party are not likely to be successful.

(34) Juvenile Proceedings. After entry of an order to seal all or part of a court file in a juvenile proceeding, IInspection of the a sealed juvenile court record files and records included in the order to seal may thereafter be is permitted only by order of the court upon motion made by the person who is the subject of the record, except as otherwise provided in RCW 13.50.010(8) and 13.50.050(24). Any adjudication of a juvenile offense or a crime subsequent to sealing has the effect of nullifying the sealing order, pursuant to RCW 13.50.050(15).

(e) Clerks Duties.

(1) Destruction of Entire File. Upon receipt of a court order to destroy the entire file under the primary control of the clerk, the clerk shall:

(A) Destroy all references to the file from any applicable automated information systems; and

(B) Destroy all documents in the file, in whatever media they may be stored, except for the order to destroy.

(2) Sealing of Entire File. Upon receipt of a court order to seal the entire file under the primary control of the clerk, the clerk shall:

(A) Seal the automated file.

(B) Seal the file and secure it and all subsequently filed documents from public access, except for the order to seal.

(3) Destruction of Specified Documents. Upon receipt of a court order to destroy specified documents or materials within a file under the primary control of the clerk, the clerk shall:

(A) On the automated docket destroy any docket code information except any document or sub-document number previously assigned to the document destroyed and enter "Ordered Destroyed" for the docket entry;

(B) Destroy the appropriate documents or material in whatever media they any be stored, substituting, when applicable, a printed or other reference to the order to destroy, including the date, location, and document number of the order to destroy; and

(C) File the order to destroy.

(4) Sealing of Specified Documents. Upon receipt of a court order to seal specified documents or material within a file under the primary control of the clerk, the clerk shall:

(A) On the automated docket, preserve the docket code, document title, document or subdocument number and date of the original documents or material;

(B) Remove the documents or material from the file, seal them, and return them to the file under seal or store separately, substituting a filler sheet for the removed sealed document. In the event the document ordered sealed exists in a microfilm, microfiche or other storage medium, the clerk shall limit access to the alternate storage medium so as to prevent unauthorized viewing of the sealed document; and

(C) File the order to seal.

(D) If the file is made available for examination, the clerk shall prevent access to the sealed records before the rest of the file is made available.

(f) Microfilming Maintenance of Sealed Court Records. Sealed court records may be microfilmed as provided in RCW 36.23.065 and such microfilm shall be maintained in accordance with this rule. are subject to the provisions of RCW 36.23.065 and can be maintained in other mediums than paper.

(g) Trial Exhibits. Notwithstanding any other provision of this rule, trial exhibits may be destroyed or returned to the parties if all parties so stipulate in writing and the court so orders.

(hg) Use of Sealed Records on Appeal. A file court record or any portion of it, sealed in the trial court shall be made available to the appellate court in the event of an appeal. Cases Court records sealed in the trial court shall be sealed from public access in the appellate court subject to further order of the appellate court.

(h) Destruction of Court Records.

(1) The court shall not order the destruction of any court record unless expressly permitted by statute. The court shall enter written findings that cite the statutory authority for the destruction of the court record.

(2) In a civil case, the court or any party may request a hearing to destroy court records only if there is express statutory authority permitting the destruction of the court records. In a criminal case or juvenile proceeding, the court, any party, or any interested person may request a hearing to destroy the court records only if there is express statutory authority permitting the destruction of the court records. Reasonable notice of the hearing to destroy must be given to all parties in the case. In a criminal case, reasonable notice of the hearing must also be given to the victim, if ascertainable, and the person or agency having probationary, custodial, community placement, or community supervision over the affected adult or juvenile defendant.

(3) When the clerk receives a court order to destroy the entire court file the clerk shall:

(A) Remove all references to the court records from any applicable information systems maintained for or by the clerk except for accounting records, the order to destroy, and the written findings. The order to destroy and the supporting written findings shall be filed and available for viewing by the public.

(B) The accounting records shall be sealed.

(4) When the clerk receives a court order to destroy specified court records the clerk shall:

(A) On the automated docket, destroy any docket code information except any document or sub-document number previously assigned to the court record destroyed, and enter "Ordered Destroyed" for the docket entry;

(B) Destroy the appropriate court records, substituting, when applicable, a printed or other reference to the order to destroy, including the date, location, and document number of the order to destroy; and

(C) File the order to destroy and the written findings supporting the order to destroy. Both the order and the findings shall be publicly accessible.

(5) This subsection shall not prevent the routine destruction of court records pursuant to applicable preservation and retention schedules.

(i) Trial Exhibits. Notwithstanding any other provision of this rule, trial exhibits may be destroyed or returned to the parties if all parties so stipulate in writing and the court so orders.

(ij) Effect on Other Statutes. Nothing in this rule is intended to restrict or to expand the authority of clerks under existing statutes, nor is anything in this rule intended to restrict or expand the authority of any public auditor in the exercise of duties conferred by statute.

(j) Access to Juror Information. Individual juror information, other than name, is presumed to be private. After the conclusion of a jury trial, the attorney for a party, or party pro se, or member of the public, may petition the trial court for access to individual juror information under the control of court. Upon a showing of good cause, the court may permit the petitioner to have access to relevant information. The court may require that juror information not be disclosed to other persons.

(k) Access to Master Jury Source List. Master jury source list information, other than name and address, is presumed to be private. Upon a showing of good cause, the court may permit a petitioner to have access to relevant information from the list. The court may require that the information not be disclosed to other persons.



GR 9 COVER SHEET



Suggested Amendments to GR 22


Submitted by the Judicial Information System Committee



Purpose: The Judicial Information Systems Committee (JISC) is proposing amendments to GR 22, Access to Family Law Court Records. GR 22 was adopted in October 2001. Since its adoption, several interested parties and organizations have raised concerns to the JISC and have suggested possible amendments to the rule. In response to these concerns and suggestions, a work group was formed in October 2003 to draft amendments to GR 22.

The work group consisted of judges, lawyers, court clerks, a court commissioner, and a representative from the media. This work group met on several occasions and discussed and debated different amendments to the rule. A final draft was written and approved by workgroup and the JISC unanimously agreed to forward the suggested amendments to the Supreme Court Rules Committee with a recommendation that the amendments be adopted. The suggested amendments are the following:

"Court record" is defined and used throughout for consistency with GR 31. The definition is the same definition used in GR 31. See suggested GR 22 (b)(1).

In addition to family law cases, guardianship cases under Title 11 (Probate and Trust), Chapter 73.36 RCW (Veterans) and Chapter 74.34 (Vulnerable Adults) are added to the cases types covered by GR 22. See suggested GR 22 (a) and (b)(2).

"Personal health care records" are placed under a confidential cover sheet thereby preventing public access to this sensitive information. A definition for "personal health care records" is added. See suggested GR 22 (b)(3) and GR 22(f).

"Retirement plan order" is added to the definition section and is treated as a "sealed financial source document." Retirement plans such as pensions contain sensitive and confidential information, they should not be accessible to the public without a court order. See suggested GR 22 (b)(7) and (8).

A new section addressing "confidential reports" was added. These reports almost always contain sensitive and sometimes embarrassing information that not only affect the parties involved, but children and other unwilling or unwitting participants. The JISC understands that some of this information must be available in the public record because of accountability and public trust issues. Therefore, the listings of materials and documents reviewed, individuals contacted, tests conducted and reviewed, and the experts' conclusions and recommendations would be publicly accessible. On the other hand, the detailed information that was reviewed by the expert would not be available in the public record. See suggested GR 22(e).

A provision is added which states that a cover sheet can only be used to seal documents covered in the rule and that sanctions will be imposed on those who violate this provision. See suggested GR 22 (f)(4).

Provisions are added to allow access to restricted records for purpose of conducting official court business by the Commission on Judicial Conduct and Certified Professional Guardian Board. See suggested GR 22 (g)(1)(A).

When deciding to unseal a document the court must consider safety issues in addition to privacy issues as provided in the current rule. See suggested GR 22 (h)(3).


GR 22 (Suggested Amendments)


ACCESS TO FAMILY LAW AND GUARDIANSHIP COURT RECORDS



(a) Purpose and Scope of this Rule. This rule governs access to family law and guardianship case court records, whether the records are maintained in paper or electronic form. The policy of the courts is to facilitate public access to court records, provided that such access will not present an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy, will not permit access to records or information defined by law or court rule as confidential, sealed, exempted from disclosure, or otherwise restricted from public access, and will not be unduly burdensome to the ongoing business of the courts.

(b) Definition and Construction of Terms.

(1) "Case record" means any record pertaining to a particular case or controversy maintained by the court in paper or electronic format.

(1) "Court record" is defined in GR 31 (c)(4).

(2) "Family law case or guardianship case" means any case filed under Chapters 11.88, 11.92, 26.09, 26.10, 26.12, 26.18, 26.21, 26.23, 26.26, 26.27, 26.50, 26.52, 73.36 and 74.34 RCW.

(3) "Personal Health Care Record" means any record or correspondence that contains health information that relates to the past, present, or future physical or mental health condition of an individual including past, present, or future payments for health care.

(3)(4) "Personal Privacy" is unreasonably invaded only if disclosure of information about the person or the family would (a) be highly offensive to a reasonable person and (b) is not of legitimate concern to the public.

(4)(5) "Public access" means unrestricted access to view or copy a requested document filed in a court case court record.

(5)(6) "Restricted personal identifiers" means a party's social security number, a party's driver's license number, a party's telephone number, financial account numbers, social security number of a minor child and date of birth of a minor child.

COMMENT


A party shall is not be required to provide a residence address. in the publicly available case record. Pattern forms shall be modified, as necessary, to reflect the intent of this rule. Parties Petitioners or counsel to a family law case must will provide a service or contact address in accordance with CR 4.1 that will be publicly available and all parties and counsel should provide a contact address if otherwise required. Pattern forms shall be modified, as necessary, to reflect the intent of this rule.

(7) "Retirement plan order" means a supplemental order entered for the sole purpose of implementing a property division that is already set forth in a separate order or decree in a family law case. A retirement plan order may not grant substantive relief other that what is set forth in a separate order. Examples of retirement plan orders are orders that implement a division of retirement, pension, insurance, military, or similar benefits as already defined in a decree of dissolution of marriage.

(6)(8) "Sealed financial source documents" means income tax returns, W-2s and schedules, wage stubs, credit card statements, financial institution statements, checks or the equivalent, check registers, loan application documents, retirement plan orders, as well as other financial information sealed by court order.

(c) Access to Family Law or Guardianship Case Court Records.

(1) General Policy. Except as provided in RCW 26.26.200 and subsections (c)(2) and (c)(3) below, all case court records shall be open to the public for inspection and copying upon request. The Clerk of the court may assess fees, as may be authorized by law, for the production of such records. Individual documents may be requested electronically.

COMMENT


This rule does not prohibit making an index of family law case records generally available to the public in electronic form. Electronic access to family law case records is limited to responses to specific requests. However, GR 31 prohibits the release of information, which will have the effect of providing access to lists of individuals, which will be used for the purpose of facilitating a profit making activity.

(2) Restricted Access. The Confidential Information Form, Sealed Financial Source Documents, Domestic Violence Information Form, Notice of Intent to Relocate required by R.C.W. 2926.09.440, Sealed Personal Health Care Record, Retirement Plan Order, Confidential Reports as defined in (e)(2)(B), and any Personal Information Sheet necessary for Judicial Information System purposes shall only be accessible as provided in sections (fg) and (gh) herein.

(3) Excluded Records. This section (c) does not apply to court records, documents, or papers that are sealed as provided in GR 15(c)(2)(B), or to which access is otherwise restricted by law.

(d) Restricted Personal Identifiers Not Required-Except. Parties to a family law case or the protected person in a guardianship case shall not be required to provide restricted personal identifiers in any document filed with the court or required to be provided upon filing a family law or guardianship case, except:

(1) "Sealed financial source documents" filed in accordance with GR ___(ef)(1).

(2) The following forms: Confidential Information Form, Domestic Violence Information Form, Notice of Intent to Relocate required by R.C.W. 2926.09.440, Vital Statistics Form, Law Enforcement Information Form, Foreign Protection Order Information Form, and any Personal Information Sheet necessary for Judicial Information System purposes.

(3) Court requested documents that contain restricted personal identifiers, which may be submitted by a party as financial source documents under the provisions of section (ef) of this rule.

COMMENT


Documents Court records not meeting the definition of "Sealed Financial Source Documents", "Personal Health Care Records", Retirement Plan Orders, Confidential Reports or court records that otherwise meet the definition but have not been submitted in accordance with (ef)(1) are not automatically sealed. Section (ef)(3) provides authority for the court to seal documents court records containing restricted personal identifiers upon motion of a party, or on the court's own motion during a hearing or trial.

(e) Filing of Reports in Family Law and Guardianship cases - Cover Sheet.

(1) This section applies to documents that are intended as reports to the court in Family law and Guardianship cases including, but not limited to, the following:

(A) Parenting evaluations;

(B) Domestic Violence Assessment Reports created by Family Court Services or a qualified expert appointed by the court;

(C) Risk Assessment Reports created by Family Court Services or a qualified expert;

(D) CPS Summary Reports created by Family Court Services or supplied directly by Children's Protective Services;

(E) Sexual abuse evaluations; and

(F) Reports of a guardian ad litem or Court Appointed Special Advocate.

(2) Reports shall be filed as two separate documents, one public and one sealed.

(A) Public Document. The public portion of any report shall include a simple listing of:

(i) Materials or information reviewed;

(ii) Individuals contacted;

(iii) Tests conducted or reviewed; and

(iv) Conclusions and recommendations.

(B) Sealed Document. The sealed portion of the report shall be filed with a coversheet designated: "Sealed Confidential Report." The material filed with this coversheet shall include:

(i) Detailed descriptions of material or information gathered or reviewed;

(ii) Detailed descriptions of all statements reviewed or taken;

(iii) Detailed descriptions of tests conducted or reviewed; and

(iv) Any analysis to support the conclusions and recommendations.

(3) The sealed portion may not be placed in the court file or used as an attachment or exhibit to any other document except under seal.

(ef) Sealing Financial Source Documents, Personal Health Care Records, and Sealed Confidential Reports in Family Law and Guardianship cases - Cover Sheet.

(1) Financial source documents, personal health care records, and confidential reports as defined in (e)(2)(B) of this rule shall be submitted to the clerk under a cover sheet designated "SEALED FINANCIAL SOURCE DOCUMENTS", "SEALED PERSONAL HEALTH CARE RECORDS", or "SEALED CONFIDENTIAL REPORT" for filing in the case court record of family law or guardianship cases.

(2) All financial source documents, personal health care records, or confidential reports so submitted shall be automatically sealed by the clerk. The cover sheet or a copy thereof shall remain part of the public court file.

(3) The court may order that any financial source documents containing restricted personal identifiers, personal health care records, or any report containing information described in (e)(2)(B) be sealed if they have not previously automatically been sealed pursuant to this rule.

(4) These coversheets may not be used for any documents except as provided in this rule. Sanctions may be imposed upon any party or attorney who violates this rule.

COMMENT


See comment to (d)(3) above.

(fg) Access by Courts, Agencies, and Parties to Restricted Documents.

(1) Unless otherwise provided by statute or court order, the following persons shall have access to all court records and files in family law or guardianship cases:

(A) Judges, commissioners, and other court personnel, the Commission on Judicial Conduct, and the Certified Professional Guardian Board may access and use restricted court records only for the purpose of conducting official business of the court, Commission, or Board. carrying out the business of the court.

(B) Any state administrative agency of any state that administers programs under Title IV-A, IV-D, IV-E, or XIX of the federal Social Security Act.

(2) Except as otherwise provided by statute or court order, the following persons shall have access to all documents filed in a family law case, except the Personal Information Sheet, Vital Statistics Form, Confidential Information Form, Domestic Violence Information Form, Law Enforcement Information Form, and Foreign Protection Order Form.

(A) Parties of record as to their case.

(B) Attorneys as to cases where they are attorneys of record.

(gh) Public Access to Restricted Case Court Records Restricted Under This Rule.

(1) Information filed by a party in any file or court record, that is not a sealed financial source document as defined by (b)(6)or a personal health care record, shall be available to the public. unless sealed by the court under section (e)(3), or access is restricted under section (c)(2).

COMMENT


If a party files documents containing "restricted personal identifiers" without following the procedure for sealing those documents provided in section (e), such documents shall be publicly available in the case record. Access to documents specifically listed in section (c)(2) is restricted. Those documents are only available to the public under the provisions of subsections (2) and (3) below.


(21) The parties may stipulate in writing to allow access to the public to any files or court records otherwise restricted under section (c)(2) above.

(32) Any person may file a motion, supported by an affidavit showing good cause, for access to any document court record otherwise restricted under section (c)(2) above, or to be granted access to such documents court records with specified information deleted. Written notice of the motion shall be provided to all parties in the manner required by the Superior Court Civil Rules. If the person seeking access cannot locate a party to provide the notice required by this rule, after making a good faith reasonable effort to provide such notice as required by the Superior Court Rules, an affidavit may be filed with the court setting forth the efforts to locate the party and requesting waiver of the notice provision of this rule. The court may waive the notice requirement of this rule if the court finds that further good faith efforts to locate the party are not likely to be successful.

(43) The court shall allow access to restricted documents court records restricted under this rule, or relevant portions of restricted documents court records restricted under this rule, if the court finds that the public interests in granting access or the personal interest of the person seeking access outweigh the privacy and safety interests of the parties or dependent children. If the court grants access to restricted documents court records, the court may enter such orders necessary to balance the personal privacy and safety interests of the parties or dependent children with the public interest or the personal interest of the party seeking access, consistent with this rule.

Reviser's note: The typographical errors in the above material occurred in the copy filed by the State Supreme Court and appear in the Register pursuant to the requirements of RCW 34.08.040.

Washington State Code Reviser's Office