Tag Archives: US

How To Access Court Records Paper And Electronic Files

download (7)Whether you are a law student or just interested in obtaining a court record to check some information, knowing how to access records is important. Access to these records are generally available to the public and are often considered as public records. That said, not all records may contain the information that one needs to see as the court may seal certain parts of the court proceedings especially if the case involves a juvenile.

Electronic Access – What is PACER?

As paper files becomes cumbersome, many government agencies are now switching to electronic database. The Public Access to Court Electronic Records or PACER is the US’ centralized electronic database that has court cases and docket information from different courts in the state such as the appellate, district and bankruptcy courts. Terminals are setup in the court clerk’s office and are available to the public. The information obtained inside the court office is free however; one would need to pay certain fee for printouts. If the records are from the Federal Records Center and one is interested to view the documents, a fee is also requested. Records from the Supreme Court are not available from PACER but are instead available directly from the Supreme Court’s website.

Paper Case Retrieval

Some cases might not be available online and have to be retrieved directly from the court clerk’s office manually. Most cases, especially before 1999, are available in paper format only and can be access from the court where the case was filed. To order or check the records, it is important to verify which courthouse the case is filed. Local courts have different sections, calling beforehand to verify would save you time as well as makes the request processing faster. Some court would require people requesting to write a written request to make the process speedy. It is best that one should specify the cases that they need and if there is a docket number available, to include this in the request form.

Are Sealed or Erased Records Accessible

Generally, sealed records are not available to the public especially those that have juveniles as parties to the case. That said certain exceptions apply. Some cases may be sealed and access is restricted however, some cases may partly be sealed and the ones not included are available to the public. Do note though that sealed cases maybe unsealed once the sealing order expires.

Court records or police records maybe erased in certain circumstances examples would be when an absolute pardon is given, another is when the act was decriminalized later on or if the defendant receives an acquittal or dismissal unless an appeal is taken.

Revenge Photos

download (4)Because of technology being what it is, new crimes emerge from time to time, and one of the new crimes that hasn’t been completely absorbed into the various criminal justice systems around the world is that of the revenge photo.

This is the misuse of nude or provocative pictures taken and exchanged between two people in a loving relationship. After the relationships splits up, one partner uses these photos to humiliate the other one.

For example, a lady that was known as Sandra found out one day that her ex-boyfriend had viciously posted nude photos of her on Facebook! The photos went viral and were shared across many social media platforms. Once the cat’s out of the bag in social media, you can’t control how many places the photo can show up, and this can go on indefinitely.

In some areas, there are laws against posting this kind of photo even if nude or pornographic photos are allowed on a particular platform, because the “model” did not consent to having the pictures displayed publicly. In one case, the laws were so lax that the woman who was victimized actually had her chest copyrighted so she could use copyright laws to force the removal of nude pictures of herself.

Some social platforms, such as Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and Instagram, have policies against this kind of revenge, but even when they do, their customer service may not be as attentive as they could be. Therefore, people can send email after email requesting the photos be removed without hearing any response.

In some areas of the world, there are laws on the books that could be used to protect the victims even if there are no laws specifically targeting revenge photos. For example, in parts of the US, there are civil laws against coercion, stalking, and harassment, so it may be possible to use the civil courts to remove the photos even though there has been no crime under current law. Many other places are passing new legislation specifically targeting these revenge photos because a person’s whole life can be disrupted, knowing that he or she can be recognized anywhere and even barred from getting certain jobs because of the photos.

Exchanging photos between two members of a committed, loving relationship can go horribly wrong when the relationship goes sour and one party has neither the respect, dignity, or ethics to let it go gracefully. Even though it reflects poorly on the character of the perpetrator, the victim is normally the one who suffers the most. Laws with mandatory financial punishments may help perpetrators think twice about posting revenge photos. Sometimes the perp might actually make money by distributing the photos, but money is not usually the motivation.

While the victim knows exactly who the perpetrator is, it might take some investigation to prove it, and this is often where we would enter the picture to help track down where the photos are going and who’s responsible for releasing them.