California Court of Appeals Decision
July 21st, 2021 | Chris Christian, Director of Compliance
On May 26, 2021, the California Court of Appeals, 4th A.D issued a decision in a case, All of Us or None of Us v. Hamrick, that provides for the removal of significant identifiers such as date of birth or driver’s license number from criminal court records.
The plaintiff, All of Us or None of Us, filed suit against defendants, Superior Court of California, County of Riverside (Riverside Superior Court), and its Executive Officer and Clerk, W. Samuel Hamrick, Jr. alleging that the Riverside Superior Court’s practices in maintaining criminal court records violated their right to privacy as embodied in the California Constitution. The trial court found in favor of the defendants, and on appeal, plaintiff challenged the trial court’s summary judgment rulings. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court decision, resulting in the trial court’s grant of judgment as a matter of law on plaintiff’s remedial causes of action.
The pertinent part of the Court’s opinion on Riverside County’s rules for indexing criminal records states:
“After considering the text, history, and purpose of Rule 2.507 [(Electronic access to court calendars, indexes, and registers of actions)], we agree that the rule prohibits the Riverside Superior Court from allowing searches of its electronic criminal index by use of an individual’s date of birth or driver’s license number. We further conclude that the trial court erred in sustaining defendants’ demurrer to this cause of action.”
The case is pending before the California Supreme Court on a petition for review on a separate issue, but due to the far reaching impact of the court access issue, several trade industry organizations, employers groups, property managers, volunteer organizations and private employers submitted an amicus letter on July 15, 2021, urging the California Supreme Court to take the removal of identifiers from criminal records issue up for review. If the court does not revisit this issue, the use of identifiers in the search process will be severely impacted, posing a threat to public safety and making it extremely difficult for the public to identify the subjects of criminal court records in California. Sterling is closely monitoring this situation and will communicate any notable updates as they emerge.
The Information contained herein is for informational purposes only. Sterling is not a law firm, and none of the information contained in this notice is intended as legal advice. Clients are encouraged to consult with their legal counsel about the impacts of any requirements. This and other important legislative updates can be found on the Sterling website: https://www.sterlingcheck.com/resources/compliance-updates/.
Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.