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Concerning the Redaction of Juror Identifying Information

 

Policy issued:
Feb. 2003

FIFTH APPELLATE DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL

Policy Concerning the Redaction of Juror Identifying Information

I.

Code of Civil Procedure section 237, effective January 1, 1996, requires that juror identifying information be sealed. Any court employee who has legal access to sealed personal juror identifying information and who discloses such information, knowing it to be a violation of section 237, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

California Rules of Court, rule 33.6 [current renumbered rule 8.332], sets forth the procedures the clerks and reporters must use to comply with section 237 when preparing the clerk's transcript, the reporter's transcript, or any other document included in an appellate record which contains juror-identifying information. The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of trial jurors and alternates who were sworn to hear the case must be redacted from all documents. An identifying number must be substituted for a juror name wherever a name appears. "The clerk shall prepare a key correlating the jurors' names with their identifying numbers, which shall be used by both the clerk and the reporter in preparing transcripts or other documents. The key shall be kept under seal in the trial court's file." Absent a court order, identifying information pertaining to potential jurors who were not sworn as either a trial juror or an alternate need not be redacted from the record. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 33.6.) [Note: current renumbered rule 8.332 echos similar language and requirements.]

 

II.

A. This court cannot and will not ignore violations of Code of Civil Procedure section 237. Accordingly, it is the policy of the court, whenever juror identifying information is found in an appellate record, to issue a suitable corrective order. All such corrective orders shall contain a reference to the statute and the rule of court, a concise identification of the problem, the procedure calculated to correct the problem, a mandate that all unredacted versions of the record be kept confidential, and a time limit for full compliance with the order

B. To implement this policy, several sample orders are attached. The form of order issued will depend upon the particular situation presented.

  1. If the number of pages to be redacted is determined to be minimal, then the appropriate order shall be Attachment A or Attachment B, with the inapplicable bracketed language stricken and the blank spaces completed. Attachment B shall be preferred over Attachment A if the correction is manageable.
  2. If the number of pages to be redacted is determined to be substantial, then the appropriate order shall be Attachment C or Attachment D. Attachment C shall be used when the case has not yet been assigned to an attorney and there is time to correct the record before the case is assigned. Attachment D shall be used if immediately returning the record to the Superior Court would likely unduly disrupt or delay the disposition of the matter in this Court.
  3. In Wende appeals or other instances where the appellant has received the record or a copy before this court has completed its review, attachment E shall be the initial order entered by this court. If the appellant returns the record or copy to this court, this court will order the redaction of the record by entering order A, B, or C, whichever applies. If the appellant does not return the record, the assigned panel, with the concurrence of the presiding justice, shall determine an appropriate course of action.

C. The writ department will take the lead in implementing this policy. The writ department shall review, and comment upon as necessary, any order substantially deviating from the attached sample forms before the proposed final order is presented for signature. It shall be the responsibility of each member of the judicial, legal and administrative staff of this Court to be alert to violations of Code of Civil Procedure section 237 in appellate records and to immediately report the violation to the writ department.

 

III.

A. Appointed counsel, retained counsel, and the Attorney General shall be directed to notify this court immediately upon counsel's discovery of the presence in the record of any unredacted personal juror identifying information. The direction to appointed counsel will be in the initial letter of appointment. The direction to retained counsel shall be in the letter informing counsel of the filing of the appellate record. The direction to the Attorney General shall be accomplished by supplying a copy of this policy to the Attorney General.

B. Whenever juror identifying information is found in the record on appeal, this court will notify the presiding judge of the superior court of the county, with a copy to the court administrator of that county and, if the violation is found in the reporter's transcript, to the court reporter. Appellate counsel shall also be notified by letter. Letters shall be signed by the Presiding Justice and shall be prepared by the Clerk if the violation is discovered before the case is assigned to an attorney and by a judicial assistant or administrative assistant if the violation is discovered after the case is assigned to an attorney. Attachments F (Presiding Judge) and G (counsel) are sample letters of notification. The Writ Department shall review, and comment upon as necessary, any order substantially deviating from the sample letter before it is presented for signature.

C. The Clerk of this Court shall maintain a record of violations of Code of Civil Procedure section 237, or of violations of this policy, by counties, reporters or counsel. A persistent course of violations by a county, a reporter, or a counsel will be subject to the imposition, in the discretion of this Court and upon notice, of appropriate sanctions.

[Attachment/sample orders and letters omitted.]

 

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