Effective January 6, 2018, Pa.R.A.P. 127 requires that all appellate filings comply with the requirements of Sections 7.0 and 8.0 of the Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania: Case Records of the Appellate and Trial Courts. The Policy protects confidential information (such as social security numbers and bank account numbers, among others) via two alternative procedures. The Policy imposes a duty on counsel to exclude confidential information from court filings and instead file this information on a Confidential Information Form and to file financial documents such as tax returns with a Confidential Document Form to alert the court that the filing contains a document that should not be publicly accessible.
Alternatively, instead of using the Confidential Forms, the Policy allows courts to adopt a rule allowing confidential information to be contained in the filing, but the filing must be made in two versions – a redacted version and an unredacted version. The Appellate courts have chosen to use the redacted/unredacted method for filing. (Supreme, Commonwealth, Superior)
The new rule requires that each filing contain a certification, similar to a word count certification, that states:
I certify that this filing complies with the provisions of the Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania: Case Records of the Appellate and Trial Courts that require filing confidential information and documents differently than non-confidential information and documents.
Related rule changes specify the certification requirement applies to each type of filing. Regarding reproduced records, Rule 2152 now specifies that Confidential Information and Confidential Documents (filed in the original record after January 6, 2018) will appear in the reproduced record in the same manner and format as they appeared in the original record. This is because Courts of Common Pleas are also adopting the Policy, and most courts have chosen the Confidential Forms process (such as Dauphin County), while others have chosen the redaction process (such as Philadelphia). A list of each court’s policy is available here.
Reproduced records that contain Confidential Information or Confidential Documents must be bound separately from the brief. Pa.R.A.P. 2171.
Various information sheets on compliance with the policy are available:
- Confidential Information
- Confidential Documents
- Sample Certificate of Compliance
- Confidential Information Form
- Confidential Document Form