Can You Copy Court Records?

Published: 28th November 2016
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Copyright (c) 2014 Mark Shapiro

If you're a judgment enforcer, you might go to your courthouse and ask the clerk; or use a court computer to view judgment cases and ask the court clerk to get judgment folders for you. The court clerk will then make a copy for you for (for example 50 cents for each page), which adds up, and also you may have to wait in line . It would be more cost and time effective if you used your scanner or a camera.

This article explains the way things work in California, your experience may be different. In most courthouses, scanners and cameras are not allowed. If a clerk catch you using these, they might tell you to leave. But it does not need to happen. I'm a Judgment Broker, not a lawyer, and this article is my opinion, please consult with a lawyer if you require legal advice.

Here are the applicable sections of the California Rules of the Court, section 10.500:

e) Public access (1)The Judicial Council intends by this rule to implement Government Code section 68106.2(g), added by Senate Bill X4 13 (Stats. 2009-10, 4th Ex. Session, chapter 22), which requires adoption of rules of court that provide public access to non-deliberative and non-adjudicative court records, budget and management information.

(1)Access (A)A judicial branch entity must allow inspection and copying of judicial administrative records unless the records are exempt from disclosure under this rule or by law.

And, California Government Code Section 70627:

The fees collected under this section shall be distributed to the court in which they were collected.

(a) The clerk of the court shall charge fifty cents ($0.50) per page to cover the cost of preparing copies of any record, proceeding, or paper on file in the clerk's office.

(b) For comparing with the original on file in the office of the clerk of any court, the copy of any paper, record, or proceeding prepared by another and presented for the clerk's certificate, the fee is one dollar ($1) per page, in addition to the fee for the certificate.

(c) The fee for a search of records or files conducted by a court employee that requires more than 10 minutes is fifteen dollars ($15) for each search.

Unless you are a licensed photocopier, access to view the records is permitted, however to copy the files (in any form) usually will require the court clerk to make the copy at the fees shown above.

Most California court clerks use California Rules of Court section (CRC 1.150 to prevent the use of cameras, and most court clerks also ban scanners. Besides CRC 1.150, the majority of courts have a local rule forbidding cameras in any area the courthouse, not just the courtrooms.

However it is a good idea to introduce yourself to the clerks when they aren't busy. In certain courts, polite recovery specialists have been able to get a clerk to agree that a hand scanner is OK, by politely addressing the court clerk's concerns. A scanner is not a camera, and because the files would not be disturbed, some courts permit scanning.

What can you do if the clerks do not allow cell phone cameras or scanners to be used? Some enforcers bring laptops into the court and use a text editor, a database, or a spreadsheet to perform data entry at the courthouse. If you do not own a laptop, these 5 steps will help:

1) Check if the register of actions (ROAs) are on the web before you go to the courthouse. Many courthouses have these online now, and you can go to their website and look up judgment info; but usually they don't show the judgment paperwork. One can search records by case number or name.

2) Check out the computer access for looking up judgments is available at your courthouse.

3) Figure out where the physical judgment files are, and how to get to them.

4) Figure out the court's case file numbering. Determine how to use their numbering system to go back 2 or more years. As an example: 14-SC45503 might be today. Try going back to 12-SC45503, etc. You can check these by using the register of actions, and search records prior to visiting the courts, determine the ones you want to look at; and ask for the judgments specifically at the clerk's counter.

5) To know how your court decides issues; determine when the postjudgment hearings are held for motions to pay in installments, motions to vacate, claims of exemption, third-party claims, etc.


Mark D. Shapiro - Judgment Broker - - where Judgments go to get Recovered!

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