The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania’s website puts all requirements for each county in Pennsylvania (as well as the appellate courts) at your fingertips. This page on the site shows whether a county requires redacted and unredacted filings or the use of a Confidential Information Form. The page contains links to most counties’ local rules on public access (excepting Chester, which can be found at: https://www.chesco.org/documentcenter/view/43215 ).
A. Pursuant to the Public Access Rules, Confidential Information includes:
o Social security numbers
o Financial account numbers except the last four digits when the financial account is the subject of the case and cannot otherwise be identified
o Driver license numbers
o State identification numbers (SIDs)
o Minors’ names and dates of birth (except when minor is charged as a defendant in a criminal matter)
o Abuse victim’s address and other contact information in family court actions (including employer’s name, address and work schedule)
B. Counties requiring a Confidential Information Form (CIF) require the redaction of confidential information in the pleading; the CIF serves as a legend to that information. The CIF is not available for viewing by the public; the redacted pleading is. Locally, Bucks, Chester and Delaware counties require submission of a CIF. (Note: Chester County rules require that the CIF be submitted on BLUE paper.)
Montgomery and Philadelphia counties require submission of an unredacted original and redacted copies instead of a CIF. Montgomery County’s e-filing system allows the e-filer to identify documents as public or confidential; the system is intuitive and allows the submission of redacted versions of each document at the time of filing. Philadelphia requires the submission of an original and redacted version.
C. In all counties, exhibits or attachments containing confidential documents require use of a Confidential Document Form (CDF). The CDF identifies where confidential information is located but does not identify any specifics beyond the category of the confidential information. The CDF is available to the public; the identified attachments or exhibits are not. The CDF does not contain anything specific to an individual other than the caption, only the category of confidential information and where it is located. As with the CIF, Chester County requires that the CDF be submitted on BLUE paper.
D. Confidential Documents under the Rules are:
o Financial source documents
o Minors’ educational records
o Medical/psychological records
o Children and Youth Services records
o Marital property inventory and Pretrial Statement as provided in Pa.R.C.P. 1920.33
o Income and Expense Statement as provided in Pa.R.C.P. 1910.27(c)
o Agreements between parties as defined by 23 Pa.C.S. § 3105
E. Also in all counties, pursuant to the Public Access rules, a Certificate of Compliance is to be submitted with all filings, including those not subject to redaction. The certificate is a simple, one paragraph document:
I certify that this filing complies with the provisions of the Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania: Case Records of the Appellate and Trial Courts that require filing of confidential information and documents differently than non-confidential information and documents.
The Certificate of Compliance should contain the case caption, the filing attorney’s signature and the date.
It is important to note that the Public Access rules place responsibility for adherence squarely on the filing party, therefore, following the various counties’ policies is essential. If something should arise that isn’t covered by the above, be sure to check with the appropriate prothonotary.