Rule 123. Access to the Judicial Records of the State of Arizona
Arizona Revised Statutes AnnotatedRules of the Supreme Court of ArizonaEffective: January 1, 2020
Effective: January 1, 2020
A.R.S. Sup.Ct.Rules, Rule 123
Rule 123. Access to the Judicial Records of the State of Arizona
(a) Authority and Scope of Rule. Pursuant to the administrative powers vested in the supreme court by Article VI, Section 3, of the Arizona Constitution, and the court's inherent power to administer and supervise court operations, this rule is adopted to govern public access to the records of all courts and administrative offices of the judicial department of the State of Arizona.
(3) Commercial Purpose. As used in this rule “Commercial Purpose” means the use of a public record for the purpose of sale or resale or for the purpose of producing a document containing all or part of the copy, printout or photograph for sale or the obtaining of names and addresses from such public records for the purpose of solicitation or the sale of such names and addresses to another for the purpose of solicitation or for any purpose in which the purchaser can reasonably anticipate the receipt of monetary gain from direct or indirect use of such public records. “Commercial Purpose” does not mean the use of a public record as evidence or as research for evidence in an action in a judicial or quasi-judicial body of this state or a political subdivision of this state.
(6) Criminal History Record Information (CHRI). “Criminal History Record Information” means only those records of arrests, convictions, sentences, dismissals and other dispositions of charges against individuals that have been provided to the court by the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), Arizona Crime Information Center (ACIC), or any other criminal justice agency for use in juvenile and adult criminal justice cases, employment, licensing or other authorized investigations.
(8) Custodian of Bulk Data. In a superior court or appellate court, “Custodian of Bulk Data” means, depending on local practice, either the clerk of court or the presiding judge. In a justice of the peace or municipal court, the custodian is the sitting justice of the peace and the presiding judge of the municipal court, respectively.
(10) High-Level Administrative Positions. In the superior, justice, and municipal courts, “high-level administrative positions” means court administrators, chief probation officers, and juvenile court directors. In the appellate courts, it means the clerks of the court and the administrative director.
(14) Presiding Judge. “Presiding Judge” means the presiding judge of the superior court for each county, or the chief judge for each division of the court of appeals or the chief justice of the supreme court. For municipal and justice courts “Presiding Judge” means the presiding judge of the superior court.
(15) Private Organization Serving a Public Purpose. “Private Organization Serving a Public Purpose” means a private organization, the objective of which is to serve a public purpose, such as criminal justice, child welfare, licensing, mental health treatment, or research for scholarly or governmental purposes.
(17) Record. “Record” means all existing documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings or other materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or in connection with the transaction of any official business by the court, and preserved or appropriate for preservation by the court as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decision, procedures, operations or other governmental activities.
(18) Records Maintained for Human Resources Purposes. “Records maintained for human resources purposes” means records relating to employees and volunteers such as the official personnel file, and records of employee benefits, investigations, EEOC complaints, reclassifications, supervisors' working files, employee relations guidance, counseling notes, and similar matters.
(1) Open Records Policy. Historically, this state has always favored open government and an informed citizenry. In the tradition, the records in all courts and administrative offices of the Judicial Department of the State of Arizona are presumed to be open to any member of the public for inspection or to obtain copies at all times during regular office hours at the office having custody of the records. However, in view of the possible countervailing interests of confidentiality, privacy or the best interests of the state public access to some court records may be restricted or expanded in accordance with the provision of this rule, or other provisions of law.
(B) The custodian shall utilize reasonable records management practices and procedures to assure that all closed records are properly identified as “confidential” and maintained segregated or apart from records open to the public. Whenever possible, records containing both public and confidential information shall be identified as “containing both public and confidential information.”
(C) Upon request, the custodian shall reproduce any record containing public information that would otherwise be closed, by redacting all confidential information from the record unless release of the entire record is prohibited by law. Records that are reproduced after redaction shall contain a disclosure that they were redacted, unless such disclosure would defeat the purpose of the redaction. Identification of redacted records shall include a description of the nature and length of the matters contained therein, unless the description, if given, constitutes a disclosure of confidential information. Upon request, the custodian shall identify the legal authority for the redaction.
(3) Confidential and Personal Financial Records. Documents containing social security, credit card, debit card, or financial account numbers or credit reports of an individual, when collected by the court for administrative purposes, are closed unless made public in a court proceeding or upon court order.
(4) New Records. The court is not required to index, compile, re-compile, re-format, program or otherwise reorganize existing information to create new records not maintained in the ordinary course of business. Removing, deleting or redacting confidential information from a record, or reproducing a record in non-original format, is not deemed to be creating a new record as defined herein.
(6) Employees of Government Agencies and Private Organizations Serving a Public Purpose. Employees of federal, state, tribal, and local government agencies and political subdivisions, and private organizations serving a public purpose may be granted such access to court records as required to serve that purpose according to this rule or as provided by any supplemental supreme court policies or court order.
(B) All records of proceedings under Rule 47.3, Rules of Procedure for the Juvenile Court, dependency, guardianship under ARS §§ 8-871 through 8-874, termination of parental rights, adoption, and other related proceedings are confidential and must be withheld from public inspection unless authorized by law, rule, or court order.
(C) All information and records obtained in the course of evaluation, examination or treatment of juveniles who have been referred to a treatment program funded by the juvenile probation fund (pursuant to ARS § 8-321) or the family counseling fund (ARS § 8-261 et seq.) are confidential and must be withheld from public inspection unless authorized by law, rule or court order. These records include, but are not limited to, clinical records, medical reports, laboratory statements and reports, or any report relating to diagnostic findings and treatment of juveniles, or any information by which the juvenile or the juvenile's family may be identified, wherever such records are maintained by the court.
(A) Criminal History Records, diagnostic evaluations, psychiatric and psychological reports, medical reports, alcohol screening and treatment reports, social studies, probation supervision histories and any other records maintained as the work product of pretrial services staff, probation officers and other staff for use by the court are closed and shall be withheld from public inspection, including such records associated with the interstate compact pursuant to ARS § 31-461. However, the bail determination report, any related pretrial service records, the presentence report, and any related probation office records are open to the public when: (i) ordered by the court, (ii) filed with the clerk of court or attached to any filed document and not segregated and identified as being closed or confidential, or (iii) considered or used for any purpose in open court proceedings unless restricted by law or sealed by the court.
(B) In adult criminal cases the pretrial services unit, probation department, limited jurisdiction court, or other primary user shall separate and identify as “confidential” all records defined herein as “criminal history record information,” and those records identified in paragraph (d)(2)(A). Such records shall be closed and placed in an envelope marked “confidential”, or otherwise stored as a confidential record, and shall only be disclosed as authorized by ARS § 41-1750 et seq. or by court order.
(3) Protective Orders. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, the custodian shall not make publicly available any information regarding the filing of or contents of a petition for or issuance of a protective order until proof of service of the protective order has been filed with the court. The custodian may permit law enforcement agencies to access these records when necessary to carry out their official responsibilities.
(H) records concerning employee misconduct or discipline, but only on a showing of good cause for release of a record as determined in the process provided in paragraph (f)(5) of this rule; such records may be accessed by court personnel for official purposes and by an employee who is the subject of the discipline, to the extent such access is permitted or required by applicable personnel policies.
(2) Applicant Records. Unless otherwise provided by law, the names and resumes of final candidates for high-level administrative positions shall be open to the public, after the home addresses, telephone numbers, and other contact information have been redacted. All other records concerning applicants for employment or volunteer services are closed.
(B) Invitation for Bid. Bid records submitted under section (H) of ACJA § 1-402: Procurement Code for the Judicial Branch or equivalent rules shall remain closed to the public after opening until a contract is signed, except that the amount of each bid and the name of each bidder shall be recorded and available for public inspection.
(C) Competitive Sealed Proposals and Requests for Qualifications. Records containing competitive sealed proposals and requests for qualification submissions under section (I) or (J) of ACJA § 1-402: Procurement Code for the Judicial Branch or equivalent rules, shall remain closed to the public after opening until a contract is signed, except that the name of each bidder shall be publicly read and recorded.
(6) Preliminary and Draft Reports Concerning Court Operations; Pre-decisional Documents. Final administrative documents and reports concerning the operation of the court system are open for public inspection and copying by the custodian on court premises. Preliminary drafts of such reports, and pre-decisional documents relating to court operations, shall be open once such draft reports and such pre-decisional documents are circulated to any court policy advisory committee or the public for comment.
(7) Patron Records. Records maintained in any court law library, clerk's office or court that link a patron's name with materials requested or borrowed by the patron, or that link a patron's name with a specific subject about which the patron has requested information or materials are closed. This provision shall not preclude a library, clerk's office or court from requiring that the request specify any commercial use intended for the records as provided in paragraph (f) of this rule.
(8) Remote Electronic Access User Records. Data or information that would disclose that a user of a remote electronic access system has accessed a particular court record is closed. Record access information shall be accessible by the public only on a showing of good cause pursuant to the process set forth in paragraph (f) of this rule.
(10) Juror Records. The home and work telephone numbers and addresses of jurors, and all other information obtained by special screening questionnaires or in voir dire proceedings that personally identifies jurors summoned for service, except the names of jurors on the master jury list, are confidential, unless disclosed in open court or otherwise opened by order of the court.
(11) Proprietary and Licensed Material. Computer programs or other records that are subject to proprietary rights or licensing agreements shall only be disclosed in accordance with the terms and conditions of the applicable agreements and licenses, or by court order. No records shall be closed to the public solely because access is provided by programs or applications subject to licensing agreements, or because they are subject to proprietary rights.
(14) Certification Records. Proprietary materials required to be submitted to the Supreme Court by applicants for certification or licensing are closed. Applicants for certification or licensure shall be responsible for clearly identifying any material they consider to be proprietary at the time the material is submitted.
(1) Filing a Request. A request to inspect or obtain copies of records that are open to the public shall be made orally or in a written format acceptable to the custodian. The request shall specify any commercial use intended for the records. All requests for copies must include sufficient information to reasonably identify what is being sought. The applicant shall not be required to have detailed knowledge of the court's filing system or procedures.
(A) Applicants who request records for non-commercial purposes shall not be charged any fee for the cost of searching for a record or redacting confidential information from a record, except as provided by statute, nor shall they be required to disclose the intended purpose or use of the records. If no fee is prescribed by statute, the custodian shall collect a per page fee based upon the reasonable cost of reproduction.
(B) An applicant requesting copies, printouts or photographs of records for a commercial purpose shall provide a verified or acknowledged statement to the custodian setting forth the commercial purpose and specific use intended for the records. If the custodian has reason to believe an applicant has failed to adequately disclose the commercial purpose or use of the requested records, the custodian may require additional information regarding the intended use of the records. The custodian shall collect a fee for the cost of:
Notwithstanding the above provision, the Clerks of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals shall distribute copies of opinions to authorized publishers free of charge for publication pursuant to law and Ariz.Const. Art. 6, § 8.
(B)(i) If a request cannot be granted within a reasonable time or at all, the custodian shall inform the applicant in writing of the nature of any problem delaying or preventing access, and if applicable, the specific federal or state statute, law, court or administrative rule or order that is the basis of the delay or denial. If access to any record is denied for any reason, the custodian shall explore in good faith with the applicant alternatives to allow access to the requested records, including redaction of confidential information.
(ii) If unsuccessful, the custodian shall meet with the judge having immediate, supervisory responsibility for the daily operations of the respective court, to determine if an alternative means of access to the records may be provided for the applicant. Thereafter, as soon as practicable, the judge shall inform the applicant if the denial is affirmed. Reviews of the foregoing denial and all other denials shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (f)(5) below.
(A) Any applicant who is denied access to or copies of any record, bulk data, or compiled data pursuant to this rule, shall be entitled to an administrative review of that decision by the presiding judge. The request for review must be filed in writing with the custodian who denied the request within 10 business days of a denial made under paragraph (f)(4) above. The custodian shall forward the request for review, a statement of the reason for denial, and all relevant documentation to the presiding judge or a designee within 5 business days of receipt of the request for review. The presiding judge or designee shall issue a decision as soon as practicable considering the nature of the request and the needs of the applicant, but not more than 10 business days from the date the written request for review was received.
(B) Any party aggrieved by the decision of the presiding judge or designee may seek review by filing a special action pursuant to the Rules of Procedure for Special Actions. If the decision challenged by the special action was issued by a judge of the superior court or court of appeals, the special action shall be filed in the court of appeals. If the decision was issued by a supreme court justice, the special action shall be filed in the supreme court.
(A) Parties, Attorneys, and Arbitrators. Parties, attorneys, and arbitrators may be provided remote electronic access, upon registering, to case records that are not sealed in all case types in which the person is an attorney of record, arbitrator, or named party, including an individual, partnership, corporation, association, or public or private organization. An attorney of record on the staff of a public or private law firm may extend access to any other attorney or person working for or on behalf of that public or private law firm, upon the other attorney's or person's registration. If the court provides access privileges to attorneys, the privileges also must be provided to self-represented litigants, although the privileges may be limited to records in the self-represented litigant's own case.
(B) Members of the State Bar of Arizona. In addition to access provided by paragraph (g)(1)(A), attorneys who are active members of the State Bar of Arizona may be provided remote electronic access to all case records that are not sealed or confidential by law, as authorized by the Arizona Code of Judicial Administration (ACJA).
(C) Governmental Entities and Private Organizations Serving a Public Purpose. Any federal, state, tribal or local governmental entity or private organization serving a public purpose may be provided remote electronic access to any case records necessary to carry out a particular governmental or public purpose responsibility. The terms of such access shall be set forth in a memorandum of understanding between the entity or organization and the custodian that includes provisions for safeguarding the confidentiality of any closed records. The director of the Administrative Office of the Courts may enter into a memorandum of understanding with a governmental entity as authorized by the ACJA.
• Juvenile matters brought under ARS Title 8;
• Family law, paternity, or other matters arising out of ARS Title 25;
• Orders of protection, injunctions against harassment and all proceedings, judgments or decrees related to the establishment, modification or enforcement of such orders, including contempt; or
• Probate proceedings brought under ARS Titles 14 and 36.
(b) Civil traffic case records in any action brought as such under ARS Titles 28 or 41 or a matter expressly designated as a civil traffic violation by a traffic ordinance of a city or town, and any boating violation punishable by a civil sanction under ARS Title 5, chapter 3, articles 1 through 11, or a non-traffic ordinance expressly designated a civil violation or a boating ordinance by a city or town.
(h) all documents in criminal cases in which a defendant is charged with any offense listed in A.R.S. Title 13, chapters 14, 32, 35 or 35.1 or in which the victim was a juvenile at the time of the offense. The prosecuting agency, upon filing a charging document described in this paragraph, shall advise the clerk that the case is subject to this provision.
Upon motion by a party, by any person, or upon the court's own motion, and for good cause shown, the court in which such action is pending may issue an order to allow remote electronic access to members of the public, as provided in paragraph (g)(1)(D), to any case in which a defendant is charged with an offense listed in A.R.S. Title 13, chapters 14, 32, 35 or 35.1 or in which the victim was a juvenile at the time of the offense as provided in paragraph (g)(1)(D)(ii)(h). The order may include any appropriate provision required to protect the juvenile or other victim from embarrassment or oppression. The burden of showing good cause for an order shall remain with the person seeking remote electronic access to the case record. Irrespective of an order limiting electronic access under this paragraph, the clerk shall provide non-registered users remote electronic access as set forth in paragraph (E)(ii) herein when the court generally provides such non-registered user access in other cases.
(i) the following data elements in juvenile delinquency, mental health, probate, and criminal cases in which a defendant is charged with an offense listed in A.R.S. Title 13, chapters 14, 32, 35 or 35.1 or in which the victim was a juvenile at the time of the offense as provided in paragraph (g)(1)(D)(ii)(h) above:
• party names,
• case number,
• judicial assignment,
• attorney names, and
• in the above-described criminal cases only, the docket or register of actions, but not remote electronic access to other documents, so long as the names of victims do not appear in the docket or the register of actions.
(ii) except as provided in paragraph (g)(1)(D)(ii)(h) above, individual case information extracted from a case management system in all civil, criminal, and civil traffic cases identified in paragraphs (g)(1)(D)(i)(a) through (d). Case information includes a list of documents filed, events, dates, calendars, party names, month and year of birth, residential city, state and zip code, case number, judicial assignment, attorneys, charges filed or claims made, interim rulings, and case outcomes, including sentence, fines, payment history, minute entries, and notices. Case information does not include any information regarding the registration, filing of a petition for, or issuance of an order of protection or an injunction against harassment, if such publication would be likely to reveal to the general public the identity or location of the party protected under such order.
(iii) Case information may be provided for family law matters, with minute entries limited only to those issued during hearings conducted in open court or in chambers when one or more parties or their counsel are present. For purposes of this subsection, case information includes a list of documents filed, events, dates, calendars, party names, month and year of birth, residential city, state and zip code, case number, judicial assignment, attorneys, payment history, minute entries, and notices. Case information does not include any information regarding the registration, filing of a petition for, or issuance of an order of protection or an injunction against harassment, if such publication would be likely to reveal to the general public the identity or location of the party protected under such order.
(iv) court of appeals and supreme court opinions and decisions in all case types, except that any appendix in criminal cases in which a defendant is charged with any offense listed in A.R.S. Title 13, chapters 14, 32, 35 or 35.1 or in which the victim was a juvenile at the time of the offense as provided in paragraph (g)(1)(D)(ii)(h) above, shall not be provided by remote electronic access.
(2) Registration and fees. The registration process and fees for remote electronic access to case records shall be established by the Supreme Court upon the recommendation of the Arizona Judicial Council, and shall be an amount as reasonable as possible to develop, implement, maintain, and enhance the remote electronic access to case records system. All information provided by a potential user for registration purposes shall be closed. Remote access provided pursuant to paragraph (g)(1)(C) shall not require registration or payment of any fees.
Any remote electronic access shall be conditioned upon the user's agreement to access the information only as instructed by the court, not to attempt any unauthorized access, and to consent to monitoring by the court of all use of the system. The court will also notify users that it will not be liable for inaccurate or untimely information, or for misinterpretation or misuse of the data. Such agreement and notices shall be provided to the users in any manner the court deems appropriate. The court may deny access to users for failure to comply with such requirements. The court or clerk of court that establishes remote electronic access to case records may also establish limitations on remote electronic access based on the needs of the court, limitations on technology and equipment, staff resources and funding.
(1) Scope. This section applies to all requests to access or obtain copies of any audiotape, videotape, microfilm, computer or electronic based records maintained by the court, except for requests initiated by judges, court administrators, or clerks of the court for use in the administration or internal business of the court.
(A) The custodian shall first meet with the applicant to understand the scope of the request so it can be defined as precisely as possible. The cost to obtain copies of information held electronically, which requires no programming or translation, shall be limited to the cost of materials. If a request requires programming or translation, the applicant shall bear the actual cost incurred by the court to comply with the request for copies of records. If no fee is prescribed by law, the custodian shall collect a fee covering the cost of producing the requested records, including staff time, computer time, programming costs, equipment, materials and supplies.
(C) Consistent with the court's obligation to provide public access to its records, and subject to resource limitations, the design and operation of all future automated record management systems shall incorporate processing features and procedures that maximize the availability of court records maintained in electronic medium. Automated systems development policy shall require the identification and segregation of confidential data elements from data base sections that are accessible to the public. Whenever feasible, any major enhancement or upgrade to existing systems shall include modifications that segregate confidential information from publicly accessed data bases.
(A) Data entry inaccuracies in court calendars, case indexes, or case dockets in a court's case management system may be corrected at any time by the custodian of the record on the custodian's own initiative or on request of an individual as provided in paragraph (h)(5). Clerical errors in judgments, orders, or other parts of the record may be corrected as provided by the applicable rules of procedure.
(B) An individual seeking to correct a data error or omission in an electronic case record shall be entitled to apply for relief with the court in which the original record was filed. The individual shall submit the request to correct the error to the clerk of the court, if any, or to the justice of the peace or municipal court judge. If the custodian to whom the request was submitted determines that the data entry is inaccurate, the custodian shall correct the error as soon as practicable.
(C) If the request is denied by the clerk of an appellate court, the individual may apply for administrative review of the denial by the designated appellate judge or justice. If the request is denied by the clerk of a superior court or by a justice of the peace or municipal court judge, the individual may apply for administrative review of the denial by the presiding superior court judge. The request for administrative review must be filed in writing with the custodian who denied the request within 10 business days of issuance of a denial. The custodian shall forward the request for review, a statement of the reason for denial and all relevant documentation to the presiding or designated judge or justice within 5 business days of the request for review. The presiding or designated judge or justice shall issue a decision as soon as practicable considering the nature of the request and the needs of the applicant, but not later than 10 business days from the date the written request for review was received by the custodian. If the decision of the presiding or designated judge or justice is that the data entry is inaccurate, the custodian shall correct the error as soon as practicable.
(D) Any party aggrieved by the decision of the judge or justice may seek review by filing a special action pursuant to the Rules of Procedure for Special Actions. If the decision challenged by the special action was issued by a judge of the superior court or court of appeals, the special action shall be filed in the court of appeals. If the decision was issued by a supreme court justice, the special action shall be filed in the supreme court.
(1) Access to Original Records. During regular business hours a person shall be allowed to inspect or obtain copies of original versions of records that are open to the public in the office where such records are normally kept. If access to original records would result in disclosure of information which is not permitted, redacted copies of the closed records may be produced. If access to the original records would jeopardize the integrity of the records, or is otherwise impracticable, a copy of the complete records in other appropriate formats may be produced for inspection. Unless expressly authorized by the custodian or court order, records shall not be removed from the office where they are normally kept.
Added Oct. 9, 1997, effective Dec. 1, 1997. Amended Sept. 24, 1999, effective Dec. 1, 1999; Sept. 18, 2006, effective Jan. 1, 2007; Sept. 3, 2009, effective Jan. 1, 2010; Nov. 10, 2009, effective Jan. 1, 2010; Aug. 30, 2012, effective Jan. 1, 2013; Dec. 10, 2012, effective Sept. 1, 2013; Aug. 28, 2013, effective Jan. 1, 2014; Aug. 27, 2015, effective Jan. 1, 2016; Sept. 2, 2016, effective Jan. 1, 2017; Aug. 28, 2018, effective Jan. 1, 2019; Dec. 13, 2018, effective Jan. 1, 2019; Aug. 27, 2019, effective Jan. 1, 2020.
<Formerly Part XI. Redesignated as Part XII January 15, 2003, effective July 1, 2003.>
17A Pt. 2 A. R. S. Sup. Ct. Rules, Rule 123, AZ ST S CT Rule 123
Current with amendments received through 11/1/2020.
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