Monthly Archives

June 2020

Maintaining Public Trust in State Courts: Why Privacy Matters

This post is part four in a series examining privacy and transparency issues in the context of public access to digital court records, building on my essay “Digital Court Records Access, Social Justice and Judicial Balancing:  What Judge Coffin Can Teach Us.”

Trust is a precious commodity.  Our social interactions, as well as our relationships with businesses and other organizations, including government agencies, are dependent upon it.

Although trust can be defined in various ways, at its core, according to scholars, “[t]rust is a state of mind that enables its possessor to be willing to make herself vulnerable to another – that is, to rely on another despite a positive risk that the other will act in a way that can harm the truster.”

People disclose more when they trust.  When they believe the other party is trustworthy, they are more likely to share information about themselves.

Pine

Rolling the Dice: How Not to Protect Privacy

This post is part three in a series examining privacy and transparency issues in the context of public access to digital court records, building on my essay “Digital Court Records Access, Social Justice and Judicial Balancing:  What Judge Coffin Can Teach Us.”

Maine state courts plan to start rolling out a new electronic filing and case management system by year’s end.  When it’s fully operational, approximately 85% of the electronic documents submitted by filers will be immediately accessible for public inspection upon acceptance by the court.  With a few exceptions (e.g., certain adoption, child protection, juvenile, and mental health civil commitment records), all criminal, civil, and traffic infractions records would be publicly available. Some records would be accessible only at the courthouse, while others would be accessible to the public both remotely (via the internet) and at the courthouse.

Foolhardy as it seems, the SJC plans to leave it to filers to serve as