Topic:
COURT PROCEDURE; FREEDOM OF INFORMATION; JUDGES; COURT RECORDS; PRESS;
Location:
JUDICIAL PROCEDURE;

OLR Research Report


January 3, 2007

 

2007-R-0024

JUDICIAL BRANCH PUBLIC ACCESS TASK FORCE

 

By: George Coppolo, Chief Attorney

Sandra Norman-Eady, Chief Attorney

Susan Price, Principal Legislative Analyst

Chris Reinhart, Senior Attorney

You asked that we summarize and compare the recommendations of the Judicial Branch Public Access Task Force (the task force) with those of the Governor's Commission on Judicial Reform (the commission). In OLR Report 2007-R-0034, we summarize the commission's recommendations and compare them to the task force's recommendations.

SUMMARY

Senior Associate Justice David M. Borden appointed the Judicial Branch Public Access Task Force in May 2006. The mission of the task force was to make recommendations for the maximum degree of public access to the courts, consistent with the needs of the courts in discharging their core functions of adjudicating and managing cases. It reported its recommendations in September of 2006.

Justice Borden appointed Associate Justice Richard N. Palmer to chair the task force, and appointed individuals with various backgrounds to participate in it. The task force included representatives from the print and electronic media, trial and appellate court judges representing civil, family, criminal, juvenile, and appellate divisions of the Judicial Branch, a former chancellor of the state university system, and attorneys with an expertise in First Amendment law.

Governor Rell appointed a Commission on Judicial Reform to “survey judicial rules, policy and procedures regarding access to court operations and to make recommendations on greater transparency.” The commission made its recommendations in October 2006.

The reports of both groups make recommendations on a wide range of judicial matters, notably (1) public access to court records and proceedings, (2) the presence of cameras and electronic media in the courts, (3) open meetings, and (4) responding to complaints regarding judges. Some of the recommendations of both groups were adopted by divided votes and the reports include minority reports.

There are broad similarities between the recommendations of the commission and those of the task force. Both recommend greater public access to court records, although the commission recommends that this be done by statute while the task force recommends primarily a change in Judicial Branch policies and rules. Both recommend that cameras and electronic media generally be permitted in the Appellate and Supreme courts. The commission recommends that a pilot program be established to permit such coverage in some superior courts. While the task force recommends opening most Superior Court civil proceedings to coverage and a pilot program for criminal proceedings. Both reports recommend that meetings of the judicial rules committees and the executive committee of the Superior Court be open to the public. In a number of cases, the reports recommend that the status quo be maintained. For example, both reports recommend that no change be made regarding public access to judicial evaluations forms.

Among the major differences between the reports are:

1. the commission's recommendations regarding access to records only deal with administrative records, while the task force addresses access to a broader range of records;

2. the task force's recommendations have broader provisions allowing cameras and electronic media in civil proceedings; and

3. the task force's recommendations regarding open meetings apply to a broader range of judicial bodies, but also have provisions for their going into closed session.

A number of issues are only addressed in one report. Notably:

1. the task force recommends that the legislature examine the accessibility of criminal files under pretrial diversionary programs with a view toward expanding public access to these files; and

2. the commission recommends that the governor appoint a panel to consider the adoption of a constitutional amendment to clarify rule making authority for Connecticut courts after the Judicial Branch and the legislature have had the opportunity to implement the commission's recommendations.

The Judicial Branch staff indicates that some of the task force recommendations have been implemented through administrative or policy changes. We include the reported implementations below. Many of the recommendations require changes to court rules and the judges will not consider these until the Spring of 2007.

The task force report is available online at http://www.jud.ct.gov/. The commission report is available at http://www.ct.gov/governorrell/site/default.asp.

Following is (1) background information on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); (2) a section by section summary and analysis of the task force recommendations including the action the task force recommended to implement each one and summary of any identical or similar recommendation made by the governor's commission; and 3) a table that briefly describes the task force's recommendations and recommended action and indicates whether the Governor's Commission has a comparable recommendation.

BACKGROUND ON THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (FOIA)

Records

FOIA (CGS 1-200 et seq.) identifies the records held by public agencies that must be made available for public inspection and copying. These records must be available unless state or federal law prohibits their disclosure. Some of these prohibitions are in the Act itself but most are scattered throughout the statutes. FOIA also requires that state and local agency meetings be open to the public.

FOIA defines a “public record” as recorded data or information relating to public business prepared, owned, used, received, or retained by a public agency, whether it is handwritten, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed, computerized, or recorded by some other method. The act prohibits agencies from computerizing their records in a way that impairs public access to disclosable information.

Under FOIA, anyone may inspect, scan, or receive copies of public records during regular office or business hours. FOIA sets maximum fees for most copies, but allows agencies to recover costs for others. An agency must waive any fee for copies or transcripts if the requestor is unable to pay it or if the request benefits the public welfare.

Meetings

With respect to public agency meetings, FOIA contains provisions on access; notice; recordkeeping; public participation; closed sessions; and recording, photographing, and broadcasting. Generally, all such meetings, including hearings or other proceedings, must be open to the public unless closed for a statutorily-specified reason. With a few exceptions, any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency is a “public meeting,” as is any gathering or communication among a quorum of a multi-member public agency to discuss any matter over which it has control. This includes individual encounters among the people who make up a quorum, such as a series of telephone calls or a series of personal meetings. “Public meetings” do not include personnel search committee meetings to locate executive level employment candidates, unplanned chance or social meetings, collective bargaining strategy and negotiation sessions, or administrative staff meetings of a single-member agency.

Application

FOIA applies to state and local governmental agencies, departments, institutions, bureaus, boards, and commissions. These include all executive, administrative, and legislative offices, and the administrative functions of the judicial branch and the Division of Criminal Justice.

Administrative function is not defined in statute. What constitutes an “administrative function” was at issue in a recent state Supreme Court decision. In Clerk of the Superior Court, Geographical Area Number Seven v. Freedom of Information Commission, 278 Conn. 28 (2006), the court held that records related to the branch's adjudicatory functions are categorically exempt from disclosure and “administrative functions” are those relating to the branch's budget, personnel, facilities, and physical operations of the courts (see OLR Report 2006-R-0315 for a summary of this case).

The Freedom of Information Commission (FOIC) hears complaints from people who have been denied access to public agency records or meetings and compel compliance where necessary.

JUDICIAL BRANCH TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS

Guiding Principles

The task force set the following “guiding principles” for its committees and members to consider when adopting recommendations: (1) court records, judicial proceedings, Judicial Branch meetings, and administrative records are presumed open; (2) public access to them should be limited only for a compelling reason when there is no reasonable alternative, and the limitation should be no broader than necessary; (3) there should be an expeditious and open process to resolve disputes about access; and (4) clearly defined guidelines should apply universally for public access.

The task force refers to these principles in its recommendations, such as those involving media coverage of court proceedings.

First Recommendation: Create a Policy Definition of “Meeting”

The task force recommends that meetings be open to the public and that notice of their time and place and a copy of their agenda be posted on Judicial's website at least 48 hours in advance. The recommendation for openness does not apply to meetings or committees called or formed to discuss judges' education or training.

The task force defines “meeting” as a hearing or proceeding of the Rules Committees; Executive Committee; Annual Meeting of Judges; any multi-member judicial entity established by Practice Book rule, statute, or judges' administrative authority; and any subcommittee that these bodies establish. “Meeting” does not include meetings of the personnel search committee to fill executive level positions, chance meetings, social meetings unrelated to official business, collective bargaining strategy or negotiation meetings, administrative or staff meetings of single-member committees or taskforces, or communications of meeting or agenda notices.

Discussion. The Judicial Department's definition of “meeting” is significant in its attempt to exclude the public from meetings or committees called or formed to discuss judges' education or training (apparently the Judicial Branch considers these to be an adjudicative function). These meetings or committees appear to perform “administrative functions” and as such are covered by FOIA. Unless there is a statutory exception (and currently there is not one), these meeting and committees are open to the public.

Agencies subject to FOIA must annually post a schedule of their regular meetings by January 31 in the Office of the Secretary of the State. Agendas must be available 24 hours in advance of each meeting (CGS 1-225).

Action Recommended. Judges should adopt the policy.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. The commission recommends adding a definition of “administrative function” to FOIA that would make non-adjudicative meetings open to the public (recommendation one).

Second Recommendation: Create a Policy Definition of “Closed Session”

The task force recommends that a quorum of a committee be allowed to vote to have a closed session for all of the reasons currently permissible for an executive session under FOIA (CGS 1-200 (6)). The task force also recommends allowing a closed session if a public session would have a “deleterious impact” on debate or the receipt of information and thereby substantially impede a committee's ability to perform its duties.

Discussion. Two examples of “deleterious impact” cited in the recommendations are also permissible reasons for an executive session under FOIA. These are to discuss (1) personal matters that would invade privacy if publicly disclosed and (2) matters related to pending litigation. The third example the task force gives, however, is not covered by FOIA. It allows a committee to go into a closed session if the members determine that they can get information only by promising confidentiality and the need to obtain this information outweighs the public's interest in attending the meeting.

Judicial meetings subject to FOIA cannot be closed to the public for any reason other than those provided in FOIA or some other statute.

The task force recommendations are silent on where challenges to closed judicial meetings are filed. Since these meetings are not covered under FOIA, FOIC could not hear the complaints.

Action Recommended. Judges should adopt policy.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. The commission recommends adding a definition of “administrative function” to FOIA that would make non-adjudicative meetings open to the public (recommendation one).

Third Recommendation: Access to Public Meetings in Court Facilities

The task force recommends amending the Superior Court and Appellate Court rules to allow broadcasting, televising, recording, or photographing Judicial Branch meetings that are open to the public and scheduled in court facilities. It requires a marshal to ensure that equipment is used only in connection with the meeting.

It requires a committee scheduling a meeting in a court facility to notify the appropriate judicial district administrative judge (see the first task force recommendation for a discussion of FOIA's notice requirements).

Discussion. To the extent that meetings are “administrative functions,” FOIA allows them to be photographed, broadcast, or recorded for broadcast (CGS 1-226). FOIA's complaint procedure would also apply when the meetings are “administrative functions” but it is unclear what process would apply to a meeting that is not an administrative function. Court rules generally prohibit cameras in court houses (P.B. 1-10 and 1-11).

Action Recommended. Administrative. This has been implemented.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. The commission recommends broadening the definition of “administrative function” in FOIA to cover more meetings (recommendation one).

Fourth Recommendation: Create a Policy Definition of “Administrative Record”

The task force recommends adopting the definition of “administrative record” articulated by the state Supreme Court in Clerk of the Superior Court, Geographical Area Number Seven v. Freedom of Information Commission, 278 Conn. 28 (2006). This means “administrative records” would be those related to the branch's budget, personnel, facilities, and physical operations.

Action Recommended. Judges should adopt a policy.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. The commission recommends adding a definition of “administrative function” to FOIA that would make non-adjudicative meetings open to the public (recommendation one).

Fifth Recommendation: Make Judges' Attendance Records Open to the Public

Discussion. Administrative records are subject to disclosure unless specifically exempted. Thus, if judges are court personnel, these attendance records are already subject to disclosure.

Action Recommended. The senior associate justice has adopted this policy.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. The commission also recommends making judges' attendance records open to the public (recommendation 18).

Sixth Recommendation: Retain Law on Access to Judicial Performance Evaluations

Discussion. By law, a judge's performance evaluation is subject to limited disclosure. It is available to the Judiciary Committee before any public hearing on the judge's nomination and to the Judicial Selection Commission in the performance of its duties. The law prohibits secondary disclosures (CGS 2-40a). Since FOIA requires records to be publicly disclosed unless state or federal law prohibits their disclosure, these performance evaluations are currently exempt from disclosure.

Action Recommended. None.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. The commission similarly recommends retention of the current law on public access to judicial performance evaluations and the Judicial Branch's computer tabulations of the evaluation forms (recommendation 17).

Seventh Recommendation: Chief Court Administrator Should Review All Complaints He Receives Regarding a Judge's Conduct to Determine if the Judicial Review Council Should Investigate Further

Under the recommendation, the chief court administrator would not forward the complaint or make it available to the public if it (1) is without merit, (2) is properly the subject of review through an existing adjudicatory procedure (such as an appeal where the complaint concerns a decision made by a judge in litigation), or (3) is otherwise not within the chief court administrator office's purview

The recommendation does not appear to prevent the complainant from filing a written complaint directly with the Judicial Review Council, which must investigate it (CGS 51-45c).

By law, whenever the chief court administrator has reason to believe that a judge or family support magistrate has acted in a manner that gives the appearance of impropriety or constitutes an unfavorable judicial or magisterial practice, he may issue an admonishment recommending a change in such conduct or practice. The admonishment becomes a part of the judge's or magistrate's performance evaluation record (CGS 51-45a).

The seventh recommendation also provides that complaints that warrant administrative action, but do not rise to a level that is appropriate for a referral to the Judicial Review Council, such as letters of admonishment, should continue to be handled in a manner consistent with CGS 51-45a. Apparently this means such actions will become part of the judge's performance evaluation record.

Action Recommended. Policy (apparently this is current practice).

Comparison with Governor's Commission. The commission's recommendations do not deal with the issue of administrative actions by the chief court administrator. Instead, two of them deal with making admonishments public.

1. Commission recommendation 12 is that CGS 51-51L be amended to permit the Judicial Review Council to publicly disclose that it is investigating a complaint against the judge when it deems disclosure to be in the public interest.

2. Commission recommendation 13 is that CGS 51-51L(b) be amended to make the substance of the admonishment against a judge public.

By law, the council may not disclose that it is investigating a complaint against a judge or that it has issued an admonishment. If it finds probable cause that a judge has engaged in misconduct it must hold a public hearing (CGS 51-51L).

Eighth Recommendation: Create a Retention Schedule for the Branch's Administrative Records

Although FOIA requires records maintained by public agencies to be publicly disclosed, the act does not establish a retention schedule for records. By law, the public records administrator establishes a retention schedule for Executive Branch agencies and political subdivisions of the state, including the probate districts (CGS 11-8).

The law (CGS 51-36) currently delineates retention schedules for court records or authorizes judges to set a schedule for certain records. For example, judges may order the destruction of official records of evidence or judicial proceedings concerning title to land after seven years. Records of capital felonies may be destroyed after 75 years and records of non-capital felonies may be destroyed after 20 years.

Action Recommended. The chief court administrator, working with an appointed committee, should adopt a policy.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Ninth Recommendation: Adopt a Policy on Access to Court Records

The task force recommends creating a comprehensive policy that would provide guidance on access to court records to litigants; members of the public seeking access; and judges, clerks, and other court personnel responding to requests for access.

With several exceptions, the policy would specify that all members of the public, including businesses, non-profit entities, and media organizations have access to unsealed court records. Access would include paper and electronic access, remote access, access through the use of a scanner, and access to compiled information. However, the policy would not authorize remote access by the public to court files or requests for bulk distribution.

The task force defines “court record” as any (1) document or information collected, received, or maintained by a court or clerk in connection with a judicial proceeding or (2) index, calendar, docket, register of action, official record of proceedings, order, decree, judgment, minute, or information in a case management system created by or prepared by the court or clerk of court that is related to a judicial proceeding. “Court record” does not include information accessible by the court but maintained by another governmental agency or other entity, work product, confidential notes, or administrative records.

Under the recommendations, certain information in court records is not accessible to the public, including:

1. confidential information under federal law; or

2. confidential information under state law, court rule, or case law, including:

● Juvenile, erased, sealed, grand jury, wiretap, youthful offender, or Office of Victim Services records;

● Health and medical information filed with the court pursuant to Practice Book (P.B.) 7-18, 15-4, and 25-55

● Lodged records, P.B. 7-4C, 77-2

● Family Division evaluations, studies, or reports P.B. 25-60, CGS 46b-38c

● Records related to pretrials, mediations, settlement negotiations and plea bargaining, including attempts at reconciliation in action for dissolution, separation, annulment, CGS 46b-10, conciliator records, CGS 46b-53, mediation program records, CGS 46b-53a and non-court ordered mediation, CGS 52-235d, unless such records are filed with the court during a public hearing or trial of the case.

● Discovery documents or objects subpoenaed into court pursuant to P.B. 40-2

● Personal residence addresses of police or correction officer when a witness in a criminal case, P.B. 40-13

● Record of In Camera Proceeding (criminal), P.B. 40-42

● Return of Deposition (criminal), P.B. 40-53

● Presentence investigation reports and assessments, P.B. 43-7 to -9, CGS 54-91b, 54-142g(a)

● Requests for nondisclosure of location information (family), CGS 46b-115s

● Nondisclosure of location/identifying information (support), CGS 46b-212x

● Juror questionnaire, CGS 51-232

● Civil deposition for purposes of preserving the testimony of a witness, CGS 52-156

● Information, files and reports held by Court Support Service Division under CGS 54-63d

● Witnesses receiving or considered for receipt of protective services, identity and location, CGS 54-82t

● Name, address and identifying information of sexual assault victim, CGS 54-86e

● HIV information and testing, CGS 54-102a, -102b, -102c

● Motion for leave to withdraw appearance of appointed counsel under P. B. 23-41

● Privileged communications pursuant to statute or case law

● Sex offender registry name of victim, CGS 54-258

● Records of proceedings pursuant to P.B. 2-56 (Grievance Proceedings – Inactive Status of Attorney)

● Nonconviction information, CGS 54-142k, m, n

Discussion. This recommendation would give the public access to records that are not currently required to be publicly disclosed under FOIA. If this policy is adopted, the task force recommendations are silent on the time period within which records must be provided; where members of the public would file complaints if they are denied access; and who would enforce the policy, including whether a hearing would be held on the complaint and who would hear it.

Action Recommended. Policy. The Judicial Branch's Identity Theft Committee is working on this.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. The commission recommends retaining P.B. 11-20 and -20A. Section 11-20 provides procedures for closing a courtroom in a civil case. Section 11-20A regulates the procedures for sealing or limiting disclosure of documents in a civil case. These sections currently contain presumptions that courtroom proceedings should be open to the public and documents filed with the court should be available to the public. (See Governor's Commission recommendations one and 20.)

Tenth Recommendation: Amend the Judicial Branch Mission Statement to Add the Word “Open”

The proposed mission statement would read: “It is the mission of the Connecticut Judicial Branch to resolve matters brought before it in a fair, timely, open and efficient manner.”

Action Recommended. Policy change. It has been done.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Eleventh Recommendation: Criminal Docket Should Be Publicly Accessible Online as Soon as It is Available and Remain Available Until the Next Posting

The recommendation includes the docket number, defendant's name, date of birth, and charges. If the Judicial Branch determines that there is a serious risk of identity theft in putting the date of birth online, then the Task Force recommends that the Judicial Branch post a redacted version of the birth date, such as a listing of only the month and year of birth.

Discussion. Although this information is already public, it is labor intensive and costly for an entity to create a data base with this information. But if the information is online, it may be possible to download or copy this data each day and create a data base with this information. Such a database theoretically could be used by employers and others to check on someone's involvement with the criminal justice system and thereby frustrate apparent legislative policy concerning the protection of people who are the subject of non-conviction information such as nolles, dismissals, pre-trial diversion programs, pardons, etc.

Action Recommended. Policy. The Judicial Branch expects the docket information to be available on January 16, 2007.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Twelfth Recommendation: Review Judicial Branch-Issued Forms To Eliminate Potential for Identity Theft

The task force recommends that chief court administrator review forms to ensure that any requests for Social Security or financial account numbers or other personally identifying information is necessary for the adjudicatory process.

Discussion. FOIA currently exempts from disclosure commercial or financial information given in confidence, not required by statute (CGS 1-210 (b) (5) (B)). The law also currently requires Executive Branch agencies to maintain only that information about a person that is relevant and necessary to accomplish the agency's lawful purpose (CGS 4-193 (e)).

Action Recommended. Administrative (review of form is currently in process).

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Thirteenth Recommendation: Post Criminal Conviction Information Online

The task force recommends that criminal conviction information be available to the public on the Judicial Branch's website. This information includes charges and all other information currently contained in the monthly reports sold by the Judicial Branch Information Technology Division, except for the defendant's driver's license numbers and addresses. It further recommended that conviction information be searchable by a defendant's name, date of birth, and docket number. The information that would be posted on the web includes the following: docket number, defendant's name, arrest date, charges, and disposition including any fines, jail time, and probation time the court imposed.

This information is available to the public now primarily through the state police, which maintains criminal conviction information. The person or entity requesting the information must give the defendant's name and birth date in order for the police to be able to search its records.

If the Judicial Branch determines that there is a serious risk of identity theft in putting the date of birth online, the Task Force recommended that the branch post a redacted version of the birth date, such as a listing of only the month and year of birth. It recommends that conviction information relating to misdemeanors be removed from the Judicial Branch website or otherwise online five years after the conviction date.

Action Recommended. Policy (the chief court administrator and senior associate justice are in the process of implementing this).

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Fourteenth Recommendation: Revise Form for Sealing Arrest Warrant Affidavits

To insure that it is clear as to the date a sealing order terminates, the task force recommends that the form requesting the sealing of an arrest warrant affidavit be revised to require the insertion by the judge when signing the order of a specific date for the termination of the sealing order.

Action Recommended. Court rules.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. The governor's commission does not have a comparable recommendation. But, its recommendation 19 would have the police report which is the basis for a finding of probable cause for a warrantless arrest become a part of the court file at the time of arraignment. Under the commission's recommendation when probable cause is found, that report would be open to the public unless it is sealed by the court under the standard set forth in P.B. 42-49A(c). When no probable cause is found, that report would be sealed unless the court orders it unsealed after it notified the parties and a hearing has taken place. The court must apply the standard set forth in P.B. 42-49A(c).

Fifteenth Recommendation: Revise Procedure on Continued Sealing of Search Warrant Affidavits

The task force recommends that following an arrest, all requests to extend any order sealing or limiting the disclosure of search warrant affidavits must be done on the record for reasons as specified in P.B. 42-49A or for good cause shown. Depending on the circumstances, an oral representation by the state's attorney that (1) the personal safety of a confidential informant would be jeopardized, (2) the search is part of a continuing investigation which would be adversely affected, or (3) the unsealing of the affidavits would require disclosure of information or material prohibited from being disclosed by chapter 959a (Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance), may be sufficient to establish good cause. A request for an extension of such sealing or limited disclosure must be made to a date certain, with no single extension to exceed 90 days.

The recommendation seeks to subject the disclosure of such affidavits 42-49A of the court rules, which generally controls the sealing or limiting of disclosure of documents in criminal cases.

The task force concluded that currently, a request to extend a court order sealing such an affidavit is not subject to this rule which requires public notice and a hearing in public.

Summary of Rule 42-49A. This rule specifies that except as otherwise provided by law, including court rules (see 36-2, 40-29 and 40-40 through 40-43), and CGS 54-33c, the judicial authority may not order that any files, affidavits, documents, or other materials on file with the court or filed in connection with a court proceeding be sealed or their disclosure limited.

Upon written motion of the prosecuting authority or of the defendant, or upon its own motion, the judicial authority may order that files, affidavits, documents, or other materials on file or lodged with the court or in connection with a court proceeding be sealed or their disclosure limited only if the judicial authority concludes that such order is necessary to preserve an interest which it determines overrides the public's interest in viewing such materials. The judicial authority must first consider reasonable alternatives to any such order and any such order may not be broader than necessary to protect this overriding interest.

An agreement of the parties to seal or limit the disclosure of documents on file with the court or filed in connection with a court proceeding does not constitute a sufficient basis to issue such an order.

If the court issues such an order it must articulate the overriding interest being protected and specify its findings underlying such order and the duration of such order. If any finding would reveal information entitled to remain confidential, those findings may be set forth in a sealed portion of the record. The time, date, scope, and duration of any such order must be set forth in a writing signed by the judicial authority which upon issuance the court clerk shall immediately enter in the court file and publish by posting on a bulletin board adjacent to the clerk's office and accessible to the public. The judicial authority must order that a transcript of its decision be included in the file or prepare a memorandum setting forth the reasons for its order.

Except as otherwise ordered by the judicial authority, a motion to seal or limit the disclosure of affidavits, documents, or other materials on file or lodged with the court or in connection with a court proceeding must be calendared so that notice to the public is given of the time and place of the hearing on the motion and to afford the public an opportunity to be heard on it.

The notice of the time, date, and place of the hearing must be posted on a bulletin board adjacent to the clerk's office and accessible to the public. The procedures set forth in other court rules (see 7-4B and 7-4C) must be followed in connection with a motion to file affidavits, documents or other materials under seal or to limit their disclosure.

Action Recommended. Court rule (apparently the Judicial Department believes that CGS 54-33c should also be amended).

Comparison with Governor's Commission. The governor's commission does not have a specific recommendation about this precise issue. But the commission recommends amending rule 42-49A to provide that the police report which is the basis for the finding of probable cause for a warrantless arrest should be part of the court file at the time of arraignment (recommendation 19).

Sixteenth Recommendation: Permit Public Access to Police Reports Used in Determining Probable Cause

The task force recommends that any police report used during a court hearing as the basis for a judicial determination regarding probable cause, whether or not probable cause has been found, must be made part of the court file and available to the public, unless the court, on its own motion or on motion of any party, orders, for good cause shown, all or a portion of the report be sealed. If such a motion has been granted, the moving party may have up to seven days to make a recommendation as to the details of the sealing order. If no such recommendation is made, the report must be made public.

Action Recommended. Court rule.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. The commission recommends (recommendation 19) that the judges amend Practice Book 42-49A to provide that the police report which is the basis for the finding of probable cause for a warrantless arrest should become a part of the court file at the time of arraignment. When probable cause is found, that report must be open to the public unless it is sealed by the court under the standard set forth in Practice Book 42-49A(c). When no probable cause is found, the commission recommended that report be sealed unless ordered unsealed by the court after notice is given to the parties and a hearing has taken place. The court must apply the standard set forth in Practice Book 42-49A(c).

Seventeenth Recommendation: Implement a Written Policy on the Use of Handheld Scanners

The task force recommends that the Judicial Branch implement a written policy permitting the use of handheld scanners to reproduce court documents. The use must not be disruptive to the clerk's office or the file.

Discussion. Under FOIA members of the public have the right to copy public records using a battery operated electronic scanning device that leaves no marks or impressions on the record and that does not unreasonably interfere with the operations of the agency that maintains the record. Public agencies may establish a fee of up to $10 for this purpose (CGS 1-212 (g)).

Action Recommended. Policy change. Already accomplished.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Eighteenth Recommendation: The Legislature Should Examine Access to Certain Pretrial Diversion Programs Currently Sealed Upon Application

The task force recommends that the legislature examine public accessibility of criminal files under the various pretrial diversionary programs with a view toward expanding public access to those files.

Action Recommended. Legislative review to consider whether to open up some or all aspects of the records of people who use pretrial diversion programs such as the alcohol education program. (The senior associate justice does not endorse this recommendation.)

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Nineteenth Recommendation: Post Certain Case Information Regarding Pending Criminal Cases Online

Other than the criminal docket, the Judicial Branch cannot make available online additional information concerning pending criminal cases, as it does for civil and family cases, because a pending criminal case file may be statutorily sealed upon the filing of an application under certain pretrial diversionary programs. The task force recommends that if and when the legislature allows public access to pretrial diversionary programs, then the Judicial Branch should make pending criminal case information publicly accessible online. The information that will be made public in pending criminal cases should include the following: the case name, the docket number, and the charges.

Action Recommended. Legislation. The senior associate justice does not endorse this recommendation.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Twentieth Recommendation: Certain Competency Evaluations be Private with Certain Exceptions

The task force recommends that competency to stand trial evaluations for criminal defendants completed pursuant to CGS 54-56d be maintained under seal, and their contents not be revealed to the press or the public except if and to the extent that any participant in the competency hearing relies upon them as a basis for his testimony, questioning to witnesses, arguments to the court, or judicial findings at the hearing. The judge must state on the record the reasons for any such findings.

The law is silent as to whether a competency exam should be public or sealed.

Action Recommended. Legislation followed by a rule change.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Twenty-First Recommendation: Alternate Incarceration Assessment Reports be Public

The task force recommends that alternate incarceration assessment reports be made available to the public if an alternate incarceration plan is granted by the court.

The statutes are silent regarding this issue (see CGS 53a-39a).

Action Recommended. Rule change (see Rules 43a-7 to 43a-9).

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Twenty-Second Recommendation: Study Non-party Intervention to Seek or Restrict Access

The task force recommends further study of the issue of whether, and if so, how, nonparties should be able to intervene in a case in order to seek or restrict access to information.

Action Recommended. Further study. The Judicial Branch's Identity Theft Committee will address this.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Twenty-Third Recommendation: Form a Committee to Study Remote Access to Court Records

The task force recommends that a committee be convened to analyze and make recommendations on remote access to court records. The task force also recommends that remote access to documents currently viewable through the e-filing system continue to be limited to attorneys or firms representing parties in the cases in which the documents are filed.

Discussion. FOIA does not specifically give the public the right to remotely access public records. It states that anyone may inspect, copy, scan, or receive copies of public records during regular office or business hours. (CGS 1-210 (a)). With respect to computer-stored records, FOIA requires public agencies to makes copies of such records for anyone who asks (CGS 1-211).

Action Recommended. Further study. The Judicial Branch's Identity Theft Committee is working on this recommendation.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Twenty-Fourth Recommendation: Adopt a Written Policy on the Administrative Waiver of Copying Fees

The task force recommends study of the difficulties and costs citizens face in getting copies of judicial document.

Discussion. FOIA sets fees that public agencies may charge for providing a copy of a document. It requires an agency to waive any fee for copies or transcripts if the requestor is indigent or if the request benefits the public welfare (CGS 1-212 (d)).

By law, courts must waive the fees or cost of service of process in a civil or criminal matter when a person is indigent and unable to pay. The law creates a rebuttable presumption that a person is indigent and unable to pay if (1) he receives public assistance or (2) his income is 125% or less of the federal poverty level after taxes, mandatory wage deductions, and child care expenses. It allows the court to find a person indigent and unable to pay even if he does not meet these criteria. It also allows a person whose application for waiver is denied to request a hearing and requires the court clerk to schedule one (CGS 52-259b).

Action Recommended. Statutory change and study.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Twenty-Fifth Recommendation: Study Issues Related to Requests for Bulk Distribution of Information in Court Records

Action Recommended. Further study. The Judicial Branch is currently studying and recommending guidelines for the bulk distribution of criminal conviction information.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Twenty-Sixth Recommendation: Adopt a Policy on Correcting Inaccurate Information

The task force recommended that the Judicial Branch consider the development of a policy or court rule concerning the correction of inaccurate information in a court record.

Action Recommended. Policy or court rule. The Judicial Branch's Identity Theft Committee will address this.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Twenty-Seventh Recommendation: Define “Media” for Purposes of Access to Proceedings

Regarding the recommendations on access to proceedings, the task force recommends defining “media” by using most of the definition of “news media” from PA 06-140 (the reporter shield law). The task force defines “news media” as:

1. a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical; book publisher; news agency; wire service; radio or TV station or network; cable, satellite, or other transmission system or carrier; channel or programming service for a station, network, system, or carrier; audio or audiovisual production company that disseminates information to the public by print, broadcast, photographic, mechanical, electronic, or other means or medium; and

2. any person who is or has been an employee, agent, or independent contractor engaged in gathering, preparing, or disseminating information to the public for one of the entities listed above or anyone supervising or assisting such a person or entity with gathering, preparing, or disseminating information.

Action Recommended. Court rules.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. The commission does not specifically define “media.”

Twenty-Eighth Recommendation: Require the Judicial-Media Committee to Consider Issues with Implementing the Definition of “Media”

Action Recommended. Court policy (members have been appointed and the committee will hold its first meeting early next year) (also see recommendation 35 for details on the committee).

Comparison with Governor's Commission. The Governor's Commission also recommends creation of such a committee (recommendation five).

Twenty-Ninth Recommendation: Expand Electronic Access to the Supreme and Appellate Courts

The task force recommends a presumption that all judicial proceedings in the Appellate and Supreme Courts (1) are open to the public and electronic coverage by the media (defined in recommendation 27) and (2) can be broadcast, televised, recorded, or photographed.

A party, victim, or the court could make a timely motion to limit or preclude electronic coverage. The court would then provide an opportunity for the parties, victims, and the media to be heard and its decision must consider the “guiding principles” on access on limiting coverage (discussed above).

A decision to close an appellate court argument to the public or to limit or preclude electronic coverage should be made openly with the reasons stated on the record.

There should be more flexibility in the placement, use (such as close-ups, split screens, and graphics), and number of cameras to more accurately depict proceedings.

The task force recommends that CT-N install three permanently mounted, remotely operated video cameras to create a feed or tape available to other media. This is due to concerns and possible disruptions from numerous video cameras being set up and operated in proceedings.

The task force recommends reviewing the rules for still photography in light of technological changes and permitting one pool still photographer with adequate equipment that will not disrupt the proceedings.

Action Recommended. Vote by appellate judges and Supreme Court justices.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. Both reports recommend a presumption of openness (recommendation 2) but the Judicial Branch's task force provides more details of who may object, how that process works, and what standard the court would apply. The task force discusses camera placement while the Governor's Commission recommends collaboration with other organizations to set rules for reasonable coverage. The task force also includes a recommendation of reviewing still photography technology.

Thirtieth Recommendation: Pilot Program for Criminal Proceedings

The task force recommends a two-year pilot program with a single judicial district permitting all types of media (defined in recommendation 27) covering criminal proceedings. The Supreme Court's Judicial-Media Committee will evaluate the program and recommend its expansion. The pilot program will continue in that district if the judges do not refine and extend it to other districts.

The task force recommends selecting the judicial district based on the:

1. courthouse facilities (their age, ability to accommodate media technology, security, and costs);

2. except for good cause, the media must provide advance notice of their intent to use cameras or audio recording and the judge shall consult in advance with the media about anticipated coverage;

3. volume of cases and assignment of judges;

4. likelihood of significant criminal trials of interest to the media;

5. proximity to major media organizations and CT-N (if they have an interest in coverage); and

6. proximity to the Judicial Branch's administrative offices.

It specifically recommends considering Bridgeport, Hartford, Middletown, New Britain, New Haven, New London, and Waterbury.

The task force recommends a general rule that all forms of media, including still cameras, video cameras, and audio recordings be allowed to cover all aspects of criminal trials and sentencing. It recommends the following rules and guidelines.

1. The Judicial Branch must take appropriate steps to ensure that litigants and the press, bar, bench, staff, and public are aware that criminal trials and sentencing are subject to media coverage.

2. Except for good cause, the media must provide advance notice of their intent to use cameras or audio recording. The judge should consult in advance with the media about anticipated coverage.

3. A party, attorney, witness, or victim can object before pre-trial proceedings, trial, or sentencing if there is a substantial reason to believe that media coverage would undermine a defendant's rights or significantly compromise a witness' safety or legitimate privacy concerns. The parties, a witness or victim whose rights may be affected and the media can participate in the hearing to determine whether to limit or preclude electronic coverage. The person seeking to restrict coverage has the burden of proof.

4. If no one objects, the trial court can propose limiting or precluding coverage if it reasonably believes it would undermine a party's legal rights, compromise legitimate concerns about security or a person's safety or privacy. The court must notify the parties and others whose interests may be directly affected, including the media, so they can participate in the hearing.

5. After the hearing, the court must consider the rights asserted and the “guiding principles” on access and limiting coverage. It must consider special considerations such as testimony of children, alleged victims of sexual offenses, confidential informants, and undercover officers.

6. The parties' agreement or a general statement by the court that is does not favor electronic coverage generally or for a particular category of cases does not meet the standards to limit or preclude coverage.

7. As practicable, objections to coverage and the time and location of hearings will be posted on the Judicial Branch's website so affected parties can attend.

8. Objections during a pre-trial proceeding, trial, or sentencing regarding a specific aspect (such as juvenile testimony), specific individuals (such as sex assault victims), or exhibits (such as autopsy photos) are heard and decided by the trial court using the same standards and principles.

9. Cameras, video, and audio recording equipment can be used in the courtroom but not other parts of the courthouse.

10. Pool representatives for video, still cameras, and radio should be used to ensure coverage and minimize disruptions. The relevant media group chooses each pool representative.

11. The Judicial Branch chooses the locations for cameras, video cameras, microphones, and related equipment in the courtroom to ensure maximum coverage and minimize disruption. The equipment should be set up and taken down when court is in recess to minimize disruption. During a trial, the equipment operators may be required to be present for the entire day's proceedings.

12. Video, audio, and photos of jurors is not allowed. Video and audio is not allowed for trial proceedings when the jury is excused, unless the court determines that coverage does not create a risk to the defendant's rights or to a fair trial under the circumstances.

13. These provisions do not eliminate the court's existing authority to take reasonable measure to preserve order in the courtroom and ensure a fair trial.

Action Recommended. Court rules.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. The Governor's Commission recommends a pilot program for all Superior Court proceedings, not just criminal proceedings (recommendations 3 and 4). The task force recommends a two year pilot rather than three years. The commission's recommendations do not include criteria for choosing the pilot's location. Unlike the task force, the commission requires collaboration with certain organizations to implement the program and requires the Judicial Branch to report to the legislature about the program. The task force also specifies that its pilot program would continue if the judges do not refine or extend it.

The commission's Superior Court pilot program rules are similar to the task force rules for its criminal pilot program in stating a general rule of openness, and allowing certain individuals to object. The task force includes more details about a hearing process and uses different standards for objecting to media coverage. The task force provides procedures for the court to object on its own motion. Both authorize media pooling.

Unlike the task force, the commission recommends opening public areas of courthouses to media coverage. The commission also recommends that courts remove barriers to coverage and that crime victims receive notice of a media request for coverage.

Unlike the commission, the task force recommends prohibiting coverage of jurors.

Thirty-First Recommendation: Coverage of Arraignments

The task force recommends additional study and recommendations regarding media coverage of arraignments, including talking with criminal judges and reviewing other states' experiences. It recommends considering electronic coverage of specific arraignments on a case-by-case basis on reasonable notice by the press (recognizing that some arraignments are last minute) and, to the extent practicable, judges should consult the press to coordinate logistics.

Action Recommended. Case-by-case consideration, further study and recommendations, and changes to court rules.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. The commission does not provide specific rules for arraignments, which would be included under its pilot program (recommendations 3 and 4).

Thirty-Second Recommendation: Media Access to Superior Court Civil Proceedings

The task force recommends permitting all forms of media (defined in recommendation 27), including still and video cameras and audio recording, for all aspects of civil proceedings and trials, subject to the existing court rule that allows closing the courtroom when necessary to preserve an interest that outweighs the public's interest in attending (P.B. 11-20) and according to laws regarding (1) family relations matters, (2) juvenile proceedings, (3) proceedings involving trade secrets, and (4) proceedings currently closed to the public. The task force recommends further study and consideration of the laws that require closure.

The task force also recommends the following rules.

1. The Judicial Branch must take appropriate steps to ensure that litigants and the press, bar, bench, staff, and public are aware that most civil proceedings and civil trials are open to media coverage.

2. Unless for good cause, the media must provide three days notice of the intent to broadcast, videotape, photograph, or audio record proceedings. The trial court should, to the extent possible, consult with the media in advance about anticipated coverage.

3. The Judicial Branch, in consultation with media representatives, must take appropriate steps to identify courthouses and courtrooms with special logistical concerns about placing and operating equipment. The branch must share this information with media representatives and the judges in those locations.

4. A party, attorney, witness, or victim can object in advance of pre-trial proceedings or trials to media coverage if there is a substantial reason to believe that it would undermine the legal rights of a party, significantly compromise a witness's safety, or impact legitimate privacy concerns.

5. To the extent practicable, the Judicial Branch will post notice of the objection and the date, time, and location of the hearing on its website so that affected parties can attend.

6. The parties, a witness or victim whose rights are at issue, and the media can participate in a hearing. The person seeking to restrict electronic coverage has the burden of proof. When an objection is filed, media representatives, to the extent practicable, must provide written notice three days in advance of the proceeding if they intend to cover the proceeding.

7. The court can propose to limit or preclude coverage even if no one objects if it reasonably believes that coverage would undermine the legal rights of a party or compromise legitimate concerns about security or a person's safety or privacy. The court must provide notice to the parties and others whose interests may be directly affected by the decision, including the media.

8. The court must decide after the hearing whether to preclude or limit the use of cameras or audio recording, taking into account the rights at issue and the “guiding principles” on access and limiting coverage. The court must take into account the special considerations that may arise, including those involved in the testimony of children and alleged victims of sexual offenses and other legitimate privacy concerns, such as in civil commitment proceedings.

9. The agreement of the parties or a general statement by the court that it does not favor electronic coverage generally or in a particular category of cases is not sufficient to meet the standards in the “guiding principles” to limit or preclude electronic coverage.

10. Objections raised during a pre-trial proceeding or trial regarding coverage of specific aspects of the proceeding, specific individuals, or exhibits must be heard and decided by the court based on the same standards.

11. Cameras, video cameras, and audio equipment can be used in the courtroom but not other parts of the courthouse.

12. To ensure coverage and minimize disruption, pool representatives should be used, with each pool representative chosen by the relevant media group.

13. Cameras, microphones, and related equipment must be placed in courtroom locations designated by the Judicial Branch to ensure maximum coverage while minimizing disruption.

14. To minimize disruption, equipment must be set up and taken down when the court is in recess. During a jury trial, operators may be required to be present for the entire day's proceedings.

15. There is no videotaping, audio recording, or photographing of jurors and no videotaping or audio recording of trial proceedings when the jury is excused from the courtroom unless the court determines that coverage does not create a risk to the defendant's rights or a fair trial under the circumstances.

16. These provisions do not eliminate the court's existing authority to take reasonable measures to preserve order in the courtroom and ensure a fair trial.

Action Recommended. Court rules.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. The task force recommends opening civil proceedings to media coverage while the Governor's Commission recommends a pilot program for all Superior Court proceedings (recommendations 3 and 4). The task force's rules for civil proceedings are similar to the commission's pilot program rules. Both have a general rule of openness and allow certain individuals to object to media coverage. The task force provides more details on a hearing process and applies different standards to objections than the commission. The task force requires media to provide advance notice of intent to broadcast, video, photograph, or audio record proceedings. The task force provides procedures for the court to object to coverage on its own motion. Both reports authorize media pooling.

Unlike the task force, the commission recommends opening public areas of courthouses to media coverage. The commission also requires courts to remove barriers to coverage. Unlike the commission, the task force recommends prohibiting coverage of jurors.

Thirty-Third Recommendation: Give the Public Access to Records of Off-Site Judicial Proceedings

The task force recommends that, absent exceptional circumstances, transcripts or recordings of out-of-court judicial proceeding should be available to the public. It also recommends that the court state on the record in open court, by the next court day, a summary of what occurred at such proceeding.

Discussion. This recommendation would give the public access to records that are not required to be publicly disclosed under FOIA. If this policy is adopted, task force recommendations are silent on time period within which records must be provided; where members of the public would file complaints if they are denied access; and who would enforce the policy, including whether a hearing would be held on the complaint and who would hear it.

Action Recommended. Court rule.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Thirty-Fourth Recommendation: Note Taking in Proceedings

The task force recommends permitting note taking in courtrooms with the chief court administrator informing all employees of the policy. But this does not limit the court's inherent power to prevent disruptions.

Action Recommended. Policy already adopted (continuing a current policy) and reminders sent to judges.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Thirty-Fifth Recommendation: Create a Judicial-Media Committee

The task force recommends creating a Judicial-Media Committee to foster and improve relations between the Judicial Branch and the media, both print and electronic. The committee must discuss and recommend resolutions to problems confronted by the media and the public in gaining access to court proceedings and documents. It should also educate the public on issues relating to access to judicial proceedings.

The committee must form a quick-response team of judges and reporters to review questions and disputes about access to judicial proceedings and recommend resolutions on the same day.

A member of the Supreme Court and a media executive would serve as chairmen. Members include representatives of print and electronic media, judges, members of the state bar association, a victim representative, and others whose experience and expertise could benefit the committee.

The committee should meet on a regular basis. The committee operates under the policies governing Judicial Branch committees.

Action Recommended. Court policy (members have been appointed and the committee will hold its first meeting early next year).

Comparison with Governor's Commission. Both reports require creation of a Judicial Media Committee. The Governor's Commission requires that the Judicial Branch, Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information, Connecticut Broadcasters Association, and CT-N form the committee. The Governor's Commission includes the state victim advocate, chief public defender, and chief state's attorney, or their designees on the committee (recommendation 5).

Thirty-Sixth Recommendation: Chief Court Administrator Evaluates Implementation of Task Force Recommendations

The Office of the Chief Court Administrator should collect and compile information on the implementation of the task force recommendations, which are adopted and implemented, including statistical information concerning coverage of court proceedings. This information should be made publicly available and shared with the Judicial-Media Committee for purposes of ongoing evaluation and education initiatives.

Action Recommended. Administrative action.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Thirty-Seventh Recommendation: Nothing in the Judicial Branch Public Access Task Force Recommendations Should be Read or Interpreted in Any Way That Would Impede or Diminish a Judge's Obligation and Authority to Conduct Fair and Unbiased Trials and Proceedings

Action Recommended. None.

Comparison with Governor's Commission. No comparable recommendation.

Thirty-Eighth Recommendation: Rescind Practice Book Rule on Sealing Financial Affidavits in Family Matters

The task force recommends that court clerks no longer be directed to automatically seal the financial affidavits parties must file in family cases (e.g., child and spousal support) as is currently required by P.B. 25-59A(h).

Rescission of this provision would create a presumption that the public may see and copy these documents, as is the general rule for most other case file documents under what would be the rule's remaining provisions. These currently apply when a party files a motion with the court asking to unseal financial affidavits.

The recommendation would allow financial affidavits to be placed in a sealed envelope in the case file only under the court's own authority or when any party files a motion to do so. But a judge could not seal them unless he:

1. considers reasonable alternatives to public access;

2. states the overriding interest that sealing would protect (the parties' agreement would not be a sufficient basis for ordering that the documents be sealed;

3. explains his findings, except when he grants a motion to seal and the findings would reveal confidential information, in which case they would be placed in the sealed portion of the court file; and

4. directs the court clerk to immediately place in any case file containing sealed financial affidavits the time, date, scope, and duration if the sealing order, along with the judge's signed memorandum or court transcript indicating his reasoning, to which the public would have access.

Unless the judge orders otherwise, the date, time, and location of a hearing concerning sealing or restricting disclosure of financial affidavits would have to be listed on the court's calendar, which is publicly available and posted at every courthouse. Members of the public, including the media, could speak in support or opposition to the motion at that time.

The existing general sealing rule and the provision recommended for rescission both require that orders sealing records be lifted when the matters they concern become relevant in a court hearing.

Action Required. Rescind P.B. Rule 25-59(h).

Comparison with Governor's Commission. The commission's eighth recommendation is identical.

TABLE BRIEFLY COMPARING THE TWO REPORTS

Table 1 below briefly describes the task force's recommendations and recommended action and indicates whether the Governor's Commission has a comparable recommendation.

Table 1: Judicial Task Force Recommendations

Task Force Recommendation

Action Recommended

Comparable Governor's Commission Recommendation

First Recommendation:

Define “meeting”

Judicial policy by vote of the judges

Recommendation 1

Second Recommendation:

Define “closed session”

Judicial policy by vote of the judges

Recommendation 1

Third Recommendation:

Permit broadcasting, televising, recording, or photographing of Judicial Branch meetings that are open to the public and scheduled in court facilities

Administrative–this has been implemented

Recommendation 1

Fourth Recommendation:

Define “administrative record”

Judicial policy by vote of the judges

Recommendation 1

Fifth Recommendation:

Open judges' attendance records to the public

Policy already adopted by senior associate justice

Recommendation 18

Sixth Recommendation:

Retain law on access to judicial performance evaluations

None required

Recommendation 17

Seventh Recommendation:

Chief court administrator should review all complaints he receives regarding a judge's conduct to determine if the Judicial Review Council should investigate further

Policy–(apparently this is current practice)

No comparable recommendation but recommendations 12 and 13 deal with making admonishments public

Eighth Recommendation:

Create a retention schedule for administrative records

Policy–chief court administrator and an appointed committee

No comparable recommendation

Table 1: -Continued-

Task Force Recommendation

Action Recommended

Comparable Governor's Commission Recommendation

Ninth Recommendation:

Adopt a policy on access to court records

Policy–the judicial branch's Identity Theft Committee is working on this

Recommendations 1 and 20

Tenth Recommendation:

Amend the Judicial Branch mission statement to add the word “open”

Policy–already adopted

No comparable recommendation

Eleventh Recommendation:

Post criminal docket information online

Policy–the branch expects the docket information to be available by 1/16/07

No comparable recommendation

Twelfth Recommendation:

Review Judicial Branch-issued forms in connection with potential identity theft

Administrative– review of forms is in process

No comparable recommendation

Thirteenth Recommendation:

Post criminal conviction information online

Policy–by chief court administrator or senior associate justice (in process)

No comparable recommendation

Fourteenth Recommendation:

Revise form for sealing arrest warrant affidavits

Court rule

No comparable recommendation but 19 deals with police reports for warrantless arrests

Fifteenth Recommendation:

Revise procedure on continued sealing of search warrant affidavits

Court rule (the Judicial Branch believes a statute should also be amended)

No specific recommendation but 19 deals with police reports for warrantless arrests

Sixteenth Recommendation:

Permit public access to police reports used in determining probable cause

Court rule

Similar to recommendation 19

Seventeenth Recommendation:

Implement written policy on handheld scanners

Policy–already done

No comparable recommendation

Eighteenth Recommendation:

Review access to certain pretrial diversion programs currently sealed upon application

Legislative study or consideration

No comparable recommendation

Nineteenth Recommendation:

Post certain case information regarding pending criminal cases online

Legislation

No comparable recommendation

Twentieth Recommendation:

Certain competency to stand trial evaluations should be private with certain exceptions

Statute change and then a rule change

No comparable recommendation

Table 1: -Continued-

Task Force Recommendation

Action Recommended

Comparable Governor's Commission Recommendation

Twenty-First Recommendation:

Grant access to alternate incarceration assessment reports

Court rule

No comparable recommendation

Twenty-Second Recommendation:

Non-party intervention to seek or restrict access

Further study—The Judicial Branch's Identity Theft Committee is looking at this

No comparable recommendation

Twenty-Third Recommendation:

Study remote electronic access to court records

Further study–Judicial Branch's Identity Theft Committee is studying this issue

No comparable recommendation

Twenty-Fourth Recommendation:

Adopt a written policy on administrative waiver of copying fees

Legislation and Administrative

No comparable recommendation

Twenty-Fifth Recommendation:

Study bulk transfer of information in court records

Further Study–already under way for guidelines for criminal conviction information

No comparable recommendation

Twenty-Sixth Recommendation:

Adopt a policy on correcting inaccurate information

Policy or court rule— The Judicial Branch's Identity Theft Committee is looking at this

No comparable recommendation

Twenty-Seventh Recommendation:

Define “media” for purposes of access to proceedings

Court rule

No comparable recommendation

Twenty-Eighth Recommendation:

Judicial-Media Committee should consider issues in implementing the definition of “media”

Policy (committee has been formed)

Recommendation 5

Twenty-Ninth Recommendation:

Expand electronic access to the Supreme and Appellate Courts

Vote by Appellate and Supreme Court members

Recommendation 2

Thirtieth Recommendation:

Establish a pilot program on media access to criminal proceedings

Court rule

Recommendations 3 and 4

Thirty-First Recommendation:

Study coverage of Arraignments

Further study and court rules

Recommendations 3 and 4

Thirty-Second Recommendation:

Allow media access to Superior Court civil proceedings and trials

Court rule

Recommendations 3-4

Table 1: -Continued-

Task Force Recommendation

Action Recommended

Comparable Governor's Commission Recommendation

Thirty-Third Recommendation:

Open access to records of off-site judicial proceedings, except under exceptional circumstances

Court rule

No comparable recommendation

Thirty-Fourth Recommendation:

Permit note taking in judicial proceedings

Policy–continuation of current policy and reminder already sent to judges

No comparable recommendation

Thirty-Fifth Recommendation:

Create a Judicial-Media Committee

Policy–members already chosen and will meet early next year

Recommendation 5

Thirty-Sixth Recommendation:

Evaluate implementation of recommendations by the chief court administrator

Administrative

No comparable recommendation

Thirty-Seventh Recommendation:

Construe recommendations so as not to impede or diminish a judge's obligation and authority to conduct fair and unbiased trials and proceedings.

None required

No comparable recommendation

Thirty-Eighth Recommendation:

Rescind current Practice Book rule on sealing financial affidavits in family matters

Court rules

Recommendation 8

GC/SN-E/SP/CR:ro/ts