General Order Implementing Requirements of The E-Government Act

Chief District Judge Mark Fuller mentioned a General Order of the United District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.  Since he mentioned it in his order related to recent court filings in the Scrushy case, I thought it might be of interest.  The document reads as follows:

"In compliance with the E-Government Act of 2002, as amended on August 2, 2004, and to promote electronic access to case files while also protecting personal privacy and other legitimate interests, it is

ORDERED that Misc. Ord. No. 3144, entered on April 14, 2003, be and is hereby VACATED.  It is further

ORDERED that effective immediately and notwithstanding any rule to the contrary, parties to any litigation shall refrain from including, or shall partially redact where inclusion is necessary, the personal data identifiers from all pleadings filed with the court, including exhibits to pleadings and other documents, whether filed electronically or by paper, unless otherwise ordered by the court:

1. Social Security Numbers.  If an individual's social security number must be included in a pleading, only the last four digits of that number should be used.

2. Names of Minor Children.  If the involvement of a minor child must be mentioned only the initials of that child should be used.

3. Dates of Birth.  If an individual's date of birth must be included in a pleading, only the year should be used.

4.  Financial Account Numbers.  If financial account numbers are relevant, only the last four digits of these numbers should be used.

5.  Addresses of Individuals.  If the address of an individual is relevant, only the city and state should be used.

It is further ORDERED as follows:

1.  Any party wishing to file a document containing the personal data identifiers listed above may do so using one of two (a or b) methods:

a.  File a reference list under seal.  The reference list shall contain the complete personal data identifier(s) and the redacted identifier(s) used in its (their) place in the filing.  All references in the case to the redacted identifiers included in the reference list will be construed to refer to the corresponding complete personal data identifier.  The reference list must be filed under seal, and may be amended as of right.

b.   File an unredacted version of the document under seal.

2.  A party filing under seal an unredacted document containing personal data identifiers shall file simultaneously a redacted copy of the document for the public file.  The unredacted version of the document or the reference list shall be retained by the court as part of the record.

The responsibility for redacting these personal identifiers rests solely with counsel and the parties who should not include sensitive information in any document filed with the court unless the information is necessary and relevant to the case.  The Clerk of the Court will not review each pleading with compliance with this order.  Counsel are urged to notify all clients of this order and the provisions of the E-Government Act of 2002 as amended, so that an informed decision about the inclusion of information in pleadings and documents may be made.  It is the sole responsibility of counsel and the parties to insure that all pleadings and documents filed with court comply with this order concerning the redaction of personal data identifiers.

Done this 16 day of December, 2004."