SANTA FE – Attorneys and their staff, justice partners such as law enforcement agencies, and the press will have secure online case access to court records by March 31 under an order approved Monday by the New Mexico Supreme Court.
An application process begins immediately for potentially eligible users to obtain login credentials necessary for the Secured Odyssey Public Access (SOPA) system. Applications, the Supreme Court order and the new online case access policy can be found at: http://www.nmcourts.gov/ public-access-help.aspx.
The new online system will restrict access to records in certain types of cases, such as juvenile, domestic violence and mental health cases, to protect confidential information and to comply with existing statutes or court orders. Attorneys, justice partners and their staff can apply for permission to gain access to restricted records that are necessary for them to perform their legal work.
Those qualifying for online access to criminal and civil case records are:
- Attorneys licensed by the New Mexico Supreme Court in good standing and staff supervised by attorneys with online access credentials.
- Out-of-state attorneys admitted by the New Mexico Supreme Court on a specific case.
- Justice partners, defined as state, municipal or federal law enforcement agencies, corrections agencies, compliance programs (per NMSA 1978, Section, 31-20-5.1), federal judges in New Mexico, 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.” Allowing online access to court records will assist members of the press, under their First Amendment rights, in providing information to the public.
- Self-represented parties in litigation will be able access public records in cases in which they are a party.
Under the order and policy approved by the Supreme Court, members of the public will gain online access to court case records in the future when the Judiciary obtains necessary funding to electronically redact records to remove protected personal identifier information.
Public records in court case files can be inspected at courthouses during business hours. That will not change under the new policy governing online access. The current web-based case lookup system (https://caselookup.nmcourts.gov/caselookup) will continue to be available to the public to view docket summaries and registers of action for court cases.