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Rules Governing Access to Court Records
Amended April 26, 2011; Amendment Effective April 26, 2011;
Created August 11, 2010; Effective January 1, 2011;
Text of Rules
[+] Rule 1. Scope and purpose of rules. These rules shall govern public access to court records as defined herein. The rules are designed and should be interpreted to (1) promote access to court records; (2) protect individual privacy rights and public interests; (3) prevent public access to information that is confidential as a matter of law, public policy, court rule, or court order; and (4) make effective use of court staff. The order in which these are listed does not reflect their importance; all are equally important.
(Amended April 26, 2011, effective immediately).
[+] Rule 2. Definitions.
(a)
“Administrative record” means any document or information pertaining to the administration of the courts, except personnel records, internal electronic or physical mail, appellate case assignments, and documents made confidential by satute, administrative rule, court rule or court order.
(b)
“Bulk distribution” means the distribution of all, or a significant subset, of the information in court records, as is and without modification or compilation.
(c)
“Case record” means any document or information collected, received, or maintained by a custodian in connection with a specific case or judicial proceeding, except judicial or judicial staff work product, internal electronic or physical mail, memoranda or drafts, appellate case assignments, and documents made confidential by statute, administrative rule, court rule, or court order.
(d)
“Compiled information” means information that is derived from the selection, aggregation, or reformulation by the court of some of the information from more than one case record, including statistical reports and information that are not available in an existing record or report.
(e)
“Confidential” means unavailable to public access as a matter of state or federal statute, administrative rule, court rule, or court order.
(f)
“Court” means the court in which the court record resides at the time of an access request.
(g)
“Court record” means case records and administrative records, in whatever format, except personnel records, judicial or judicial staff work product, internal electronic or physical mail, memoranda or drafts, appellate case assignments, and records made confidential by statute, administrative rule, court rule, or court order.
(h)
“Custodian” means the clerk of court, or his or her designee, unless otherwise designated by court order.
(i)
“Data element” means information contained in a field in a computer database.
(j)
“Electronic record” means any court record that is recorded in a form that only a computer can process, irrespective of whether it also exists in physical form.
(k)
“Interested person” means any non-party identified in a case record.
(l)
“Person” means any individual, business entity, media organization, or government agency for which there is no policy, statute, or rule defining the agency’s access to court records.
(m)
“Personnel record” means any documents or information relating to the employment of persons within the judiciary, except name, position, and salary.
(n)
“Public” means any person except court employees, persons who provide court services, government agencies whose access to court records is defined by law, and the parties and attorneys involved in a particular case.
(o)
“Public access” means that the public may inspect and obtain a copy of the information in a court record unless prohibited by statute, administrative rule, court rule, or court order.
(p)
“Remote access” means the ability electronically to search, inspect, or copy information in a court record without the need physically to visit the court facility where the record is maintained.
(q)
“Vendor” means any governmental or non-governmental provider of a court information technology system.
[+] Rule 3. General Policy. Court records are presumed to be open to public access during the regular business hours of the court, except as provided herein or otherwise provided by law. These rules are not intended to limit the access of parties and attorneys to case records of cases in which they are involved, but such access may be limited by court order. Each clerk of court shall provide staff training in the application of these rules, including the presumption in favor of public access to court records and the necessity of preventing disclosure of confidential records. No custodian may restrict access or allow greater access to court records than as provided herein or otherwise provided by law.
[+] Rule 4. When court records may be accessed. Court records shall be available for public access in the court facilities where the records are kept, during regular business hours. Upon receiving a request for access to court records, the custodian shall respond within a reasonable time regarding the availability of the records, and shall provide or deny access thereto within a reasonable time. Court records shall be provided at a time and in a manner that does not unreasonably interfere with other business of the courts. Electronic records to which the court allows remote access shall be available for public access at any time, subject to normal system maintenance and unexpected technical failures.
[+] Rule 5. Application Procedures. Requests for public access to court records shall be directed to the custodian, and may be oral or written, except that requests for public access to administrative records shall be written. The person requesting access to court records shall not be required to disclose the purpose for the request, unless such purpose is commercial gain. Record requests shall clearly identify each record requested so the custodian can locate the record without extensive research. Continuing requests for documents not yet in existence shall not be considered. The custodian shall respond to the request within a reasonable time. Denials of public access may be oral, unless requested to be written. Request and denial forms shall be developed by the Wyoming Supreme Court.
[+] Rule 6. Court records not available for public access. Public access to court records may be prohibited by statute, administrative rule, court rule, or court order. The below list serves as a partial list of the public access restrictions:
(a)
Records listed in Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 16-4-203(b) and (d).
(b)
Adoption and confidential intermediary records pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 1-22-104(d), (e), and 1-22-203(c).
(c)
Attorney discipline records pursuant to Disciplinary Code §§ 5 and 12(h) and Lawyers’ Assistance Committee Rule 4C.
(d)
Mediation proceeding records pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 1-43-102 and agricultural mediation services records pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 11-41-106.
(e)
Domestic violence protection order petitioners’ and their children’s identifying information pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 35-21-105(e).
(f)
Grand jury records pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 7-5-207, 7-5-208, and 7-5-308.
(g)
Guardianships and conservatorships records pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 3-1-110(a) and § 16-4-203(b) and (d).
(h)
Involuntary commitment records pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 25-10-122.
(i)
Records from child abuse and neglect proceedings, including but not limited to records of the multidisciplinary team, pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 14-3-424, 14-3-427(g), 14-3-437, and 14-3-439, except any order for payment of support and treatment that is not confidential pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 14-3-435.
(j)
Records related to juvenile justice proceedings in the district court, including but not limited to records of the multidisciplinary team, pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 14-6-203(g) and (j), 14-6-227(g), 14-6-239, and 14-6-240, except any order for payment of support and treatment that is not confidential pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 14-6-236.
(k)
Records related to children in need of supervision proceedings, including but not limited to records of the multidisciplinary team pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 14-6-437 and 14-6-427, except any order for payment of support and treatment that is not confidential pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 14-6-435.
(l)
Presentence investigation reports pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-13-409.
(m)
Search warrant applications and affidavits until served and returned, pursuant to W.R.Cr.P. 41(i).
(n)
Discovery material or other items submitted to a court for in camera review.
(o)
Trial juror addresses, qualification forms, and questionnaires, except to the parties in the case, if disclosure is restricted or prohibited by the court.
(p)
Mental health and counseling records pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 33-27-123, 33-38-113, 9-2-125, and 9-2-126.
(q)
Substance abuse evaluation reports pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 9-2-125 and 16-4-203(d)(i).
(r)
Records sealed by a court.
(s)
Sexual assault victim’s identifying information prior to filing of the information or indictment in district court, and minor sexual assault victim’s name pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-319(a) and (b).
(t)
Medical records pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 16-4-203(d)(i).
(u)
Crime victim’s compensation application pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 1-40-107(d).
(v)
Probation counselor case records pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 5-3-504(b).
(w)
Court supervised treatment program information pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-13-1610.
(x)
Criminal history record information pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-19-106.
(y)
Sex offender registration information pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-19-303(b).
(z)
Administrative subpoena information regarding child exploitation investigations pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 9-1-640(j), unless in connection with a criminal case related to the subpoenaed materials.
(aa)
Genetic testing information pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 14-2-710(c).
(bb)
Parentage adjudication information pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 14-2-819, other than the final judgment.
(cc)
Child abuse and neglect information pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 14-3-214.
(dd)
Domestic relations financial affidavits and records pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 20-2-308(d).
(ee)
Motor vehicle accident reports pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 31-5-1110 and 1111.
(ff)
Adult protective services information pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 35-20-112(a) and (b).
(gg)
Confidential fair market value information in eminent domain proceedings pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 1-26-704(d).
(hh)
Sexual assault victim medical examination information and reports pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-309(m).
(ii)
Sexually transmitted disease examination information and reports pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-1-109(f).
(jj)
Patient records from the Wyoming Life Resources Center pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 25-5-131.
(kk)
Coroner’s records, including toxicology reports, photographs, video recordings or audio recordings made at the scene of the death or made in the course of postmortem examinations pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-4-105.
The responsibility for redacting these personal data identifiers rests solely with counsel and the persons filing the documents with the court. The Clerk will not review papers for compliance with these rules.
(Amended April 26, 2011, effective immediately).
[+] Rule 7. Filing confidential information. Confidential information that is required to be filed as part of a case record shall be submitted by providing a redacted version of the filing along with an unredacted version attached to a separate Confidential Information Form, as appended to these rules. The court must retain the unredacted copy as part of the confidential record. If the redacted and unredacted filings are not offered contemporaneously, the missing document may be filed or postmarked within one business day. The court may reject any paper filed not in compliance with these rules. When filing confidential or unredacted documents, the court will not accept fax filings. The Confidential Information Form and any attached confidential information are not subject to public access. If confidential information is admitted as evidence in a hearing or trial, any party or interested person may file a motion seeking to limit public access thereto for good cause as set forth in Rule 8 of the Rules Governing Access to Court Records.
(Amended April 26, 2011, effective immediately).
[+] Rule 8. Motions to limit public access to information in case record. A motion to limit public access to information in a case record, supported by affidavit showing good cause, may be filed by any party to the case, by any interested person, by an entity charged with maintaining the confidentiality of records, or by the court. The motion and affidavit shall be accompanied by a proposed order, request for setting, and a certificate showing service of the motion and affidavit upon the parties and any interested persons, or a request for waiver of the notice requirements due to inability to locate any interested person after due diligence. The motion and affidavit of an interested person shall be titled as a motion for limited intervention and shall include a request for an order granting limited intervention. Any party or interested person may file a response within thirty days of service of the motion. When a motion to limit public access is filed, the Clerk shall keep the documents confidential and shall restrict public access until the judge has ruled on the motion. After the court has ruled on the motion, the clerk shall file the documents accordingly. Upon a finding that the information is confidential as a matter of law, or that disclosure of the information would do substantial injury to the public interest or to the privacy interest of an interested person, and the interest in non-disclosure resulting from such substantial injury outweighs the public right of access, notwithstanding the fact that the information might otherwise be available for public access, the court shall limit public access or the manner of public access, using the least restrictive means that achieves the purposes of the limitation. A record of the finding shall be kept, and the factual basis for the finding upon which closure is predicated shall be made apparent therein. There shall be a publicly accessible indication of the existence of information within a case record, to which access has been restricted, which indication shall include the title of the document with a notation that it is sealed.
[+] Rule 9. Motions requesting access to sealed documents in case record. Any person may file a motion for limited intervention, supported by affidavit showing good cause, for access to sealed documents in a case record, which shall be accompanied by a proposed order, request for setting, and a certificate showing service of the motion and affidavit upon the parties and any interested persons, or a request for waiver of the notice requirement due to inability to locate any interested person after due diligence. The motion shall include a request for an order granting limited intervention. The court may waive the notice requirement if the court finds that good faith efforts to locate an nterested person have been made, that further efforts are not likely to be successful, and that the need for access to the sealed documents outweighs any prejudice to any interested person, and is in the interest of justice. Any party or interested person may file a response within thirty days of service of the motion. In determining the motion, the court shall consider applicable law and the content and purpose of these rules, and shall, in particular, balance the presumption in favor of public access to court records against the need to protect individual privacy rights and the public interest. This rule applies to case records that have been sealed, but does not apply to court records that are confidential as a matter of law.
[+] Rule 10. Judicial review.
(a)
Any person denied public access to any court record by the record’s custodian may petition the court for an order directing the custodian to grant access. Such petition shall be heard upon appropriate notice given to all parties, interested persons, or entities charged with maintaining the confidentiality of records. Unless the court finds that the record is confidential as a matter of law, or that the record should remain sealed as otherwise provided herein, the court shall order the custodian to grant public access.
(b)
Any court order granting or denying public access to a court record shall be written, and, except for orders of the Supreme Court, shall be subject to appellate review pursuant to Rule 13 of the Wyoming Rules of Appellate Procedure.
[+] Rule 11. Electronic records. Requests for compiled information and bulk data in electronic format shall be subject to the following additional restrictions:
(a)
The courts shall not be required, in response to a request for public access to court records, to create a non-standard data element, to make a data element available electronically that is not presently available electronically, or to produce a non-standard or alternative format report.
(b)
The courts shall not be required to allow inspection or copying of a record in its electronic format if doing so would jeopardize or compromise the security or integrity of the original record or of any proprietary software in which it is maintained.
(c)
The courts shall not be required to compile data, extract data or create a non-standard document to comply with an electronic record request if doing so would impair the court’s ability to discharge its duties.
(d)
The courts shall not be required to provide public access to the following data elements in an electronic record: social security numbers, street addresses, telephone numbers, personal identification numbers, motor vehicle driver’s licenses and license plate numbers, and financial account information.
[+] Rule 12. Compiled information. The courts have no duty to provide compiled information. However, any person may request compiled information directly from the clerk of court, if the request consists solely of information that is publicly accessible, is not already available in an existing report, and pertains to new filings, dispositions, judgments, and satisfaction of judgments. Requests for compiled information shall identify what information is sought, describe the purpose for requesting the information, explain how the information will benefit the public interest, and explain provisions for the secure protection of any information requested. An applicant requesting compiled information shall be required to certify that the data will not be sold or otherwise distributed directly or indirectly to third parties, that the information will not be used directly or indirectly to sell a product or services to an individual or the general public, and that the information will not be copied or duplicated, except in the public interest. Compiled information requests shall be limited to no greater than the preceding three month period from the date of request. Absent a showing of good cause, the clerks of court shall provide compiled information within the above limitations; for purposes of this rule, good cause means the court’s electronic case management system is not capable of compiling the requested information. The Supreme Court may compile and provide additional information if it determines, in the exercise of its discretion, that providing the information meets the criteria established herein, that the resources are available to compile the information, and that it is an appropriate use of public resources. The State Court Administrator shall make the initial determination and recommendation to the Supreme Court as to whether to provide the additional compiled information.
(Amended April 26, 2011, effective immediately).
[+] Rule 13. Bulk distribution. No bulk distribution of court records shall be made without prior approval of the Supreme Court.
[+] Rule 14. Copies. In all cases in which a person has the right of public access to court records, he or she may request copies, printouts, or photographs. If the custodian does not have facilities for making copies, printouts or photographs, the applicant shall be granted access to the records for the purpose of making copies, printouts, or photographs. The copies, printouts, or photographs shall be made while the records are in the possession of the custodian and are subject to the supervision of the custodian. When practical, the copy, printout, or photography work shall be done in the place where the records are kept, but if it is impractical to do so, the custodian may make other arrangements, at the applicant’s expense.
[+] Rule 15. Fees. The Rules for Fees and Costs for District Courts, Rules for Fees and Costs for Circuit Courts, and any rules governing fees and costs in the Wyoming Rules of Appellate Procedure, as amended from time-to-time, are incorporated herein. Fees shall be paid in advance.
[+] Rule 16. Vendors. If a court contracts with a vendor to provide information technology support to gather, store, or make accessible court records, the vendor shall be required to comply with these rules and any statutes or administrative agency regulations governing access to court records, and shall be required to notify the court of any requests for compiled information or bulk distribution of court records.
[+] Rule 17. Local rules. Local rules governing access to court records are prohibited.
APPENDIX OF FORMS
See “Wyoming Court Rules Annotated” for Appendix of Forms.
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