Keeping your private info forever private

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By Marie E. Matyjaszek

Despite being effective April 1, 2022, the new court rule requirement concerning privacy is not an April Fools’ joke. 

Michigan Court Rule (MCR) 1.09(D)(9) provides that certain information which identifies a person cannot be included in any public court document, or any attachments, except as stated in the rule.  “Personal identifying information” is protected and includes:  birth dates, social security numbers or national identification numbers, driver’s license numbers or other state ID, passport numbers and financial account numbers.

At the start of most family law cases, parties must file a form called a Verified Statement, which requests much of the above personal information. However, because that form is not placed in the public court file and is kept in the Friend of the Court’s confidential file, parties can provide this information when completing it. 

Other forms created by the State Court Administrator’s Office (SCAO) may ask for personal identifying information, and the parties may have that information removed if it is not required by law. It will remain on the form if required or kept confidential. In my opinion, court orders regarding children are the number one place where parties and attorneys provide protected information, as they often state the children’s dates of birth. It will likely take a while to get out of this habit.

So, who is responsible for ensuring that your personal deets don’t end up splashed across your court record?  You and your attorney.  

In section 10(a) of the court rule, it states: “The responsibility for excluding or redacting personal identifying information listed in subrule (9) from all documents filed with or offered to the court rests solely with the parties and their attorneys. The clerk of the court is not required to review, redact, or screen documents at time of filing for personal identifying information, protected or otherwise, whether filed electronically or on paper. For a document filed with or offered to the court, except as otherwise provided in these rules, the clerk of the court is not required to redact protected personal identifying information from that document, regardless of whether filed before or after April 1, 2022, before providing a requested copy of the document (whether requested in person or via the internet) or before providing direct access to the document via a publicly accessible computer at the courthouse.”

The clerk can redact the protected information at its own discretion, and if the court creates a document which contains any of the information after April 1, 2022, it must be redacted before it is made public. Websites that are publicly accessible cannot contain any of the protected information either.

The take home message from this article:  proceed with caution when filing court documents. If you want more information on this topic, you can visit the Michigan Courts website at courts.michigan.gov. 

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The author is an Attorney Referee at the Washtenaw County Friend of the Court; however, the views expressed here are her own. Email her at matyjasz@hotmail.com.  


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