NM SUPREME COURT News:
Attorneys and their staff, the press, and justice partners, including law enforcement and child welfare agencies, could be granted online access to electronic records in court case files under a proposal before the New Mexico Judiciary.
If adopted by the New Mexico Supreme Court, the proposal would permit approved users to view public records from their computer terminals 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a restricted access system operated by the Judicial Information Division.
Interested parties are invited to comment on the proposal at a public hearing 9 a.m. to noon, Dec. 8, 2016, in Santa Fe conducted by the Online Access Subcommittee of the Judicial Information Systems Council.
The hearing and meeting will be held at the Judicial Information Division, 2905 Rodeo Park Drive East, Building 5, Santa Fe, NM 87505.
Members of the public who cannot participate in the hearing at the Judicial Information Division office can comment through video conferencing available at the following courthouses across the state: the Third Judicial Court in Las Cruces, the Fifth Judicial Court in Roswell, the Eighth Judicial District Court in Taos, the Eleventh Judicial District Court in Farmington, and the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court in Albuquerque.
The proposed policy is intended to expand access to electronic records in civil and criminal cases, assisting licensed attorneys who practice in New Mexico, law enforcement and governmental agencies involved in judicial proceedings, and members of the press in reporting on public affairs.
Those requesting online access to the Secured Odyssey Public Access (SOPA) system would be required to apply to the Judicial Information Division for login credentials.
Under the proposed policy, those who could qualify for online access are:
- Attorneys licensed by the New Mexico Supreme Court and staff working for attorneys with online access credentials.
- Out-of-state attorneys admitted by the New Mexico Supreme Court on a specific case. Access would be restricted to public records only in the cases of the out-of-state attorney, also known as a pro hac vice attorney.
- Justice partners, defined as state, municipal or federal law enforcement agencies, corrections agencies, compliance programs (per NMSA 1978, Section, 31-20-5.1), municipal judges and court staff, and any state or federal agency involved in adult, family or child welfare.
- Press, defined as “any person who regularly gathers, prepares, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports or publishes news or information about matters of public interest in any medium and who successfully applies to participate in online access and agrees to comply with all court rules.”
- Self-represented parties in litigation. Online access would be restricted to public records in cases in which they are a party.
Under the Inspection of Public Records Act, § 14-2-1(B), unredacted records with protected personal identifier information cannot be made available on a governmental website that is generally accessible to the public. The proposed policy provides for extending online access to members of the public in the future when the Judiciary obtains adequate funding to electronically redact records to remove protected personal identifier information.
Persons who qualify for online access to unredacted court records must agree not to publish confidential information or protected personal identifier information as set forth in proposed amendments to the Judiciary’s rules of procedure governing the public inspection and sealing of court records.
The proposed online access policy, related application documents, and proposed rule amendments that are the subject of the public hearing are available for viewing on the New Mexico Supreme Court’s website by clicking here.
In addition to, or in lieu of, attending the public hearing, interested parties are also encouraged to submit a written comment. If you would like to submit a written comment on the proposal under consideration by the Online Access Subcommittee, you may do so by either submitting a comment electronically through the Supreme Court’s website at supremecourt.nmcourts.gov or by sending your written comments by mail, email, or fax to:
Joey D. Moya, Clerk
New Mexico Supreme Court
P.O. Box 848
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504-0848
Your written comments must be received by the Clerk on or before Dec. 6, 2016, to be considered by the subcommittee before the public hearing. Written comments also may be submitted at the public hearing Dec. 8, 2016. Please note that any submitted comments may be posted on the Supreme Court’s website for public viewing.
Anyone planning to attend the public hearing is encouraged to arrive early as space is limited. And anyone who wants to provide an oral comment at the public hearing must register upon arrival at the site of the public hearing. The amount of time allotted for individual comments may be limited as necessary to accommodate all those present at the public hearing wishing to provide an oral comment. Anyone who needs a reasonable accommodation to attend or participate at the public hearing should contact the Judicial Information Division at 505.476.6900 as soon as possible.