SIDEBAR Winter 2017-18 - 25



Updates to Montgomery County Court
Filing Procedures:
New Statewide Public Access Policy goes into effect
January 6, 2018 and Electronic Filing is coming to
Criminal Court in Montgomery County
in January 2018
By Lydia S. Terrill, Esq. and Denise S. Vicario, Esq.


hanges are coming in 2018 to Montgomery County Court
filings: a statewide public access policy will go into effect
that will impact all case types and PACFiling that will be
available on criminal cases. On January 6, 2017, the Pennsylvania
Supreme Court adopted a new policy addressing access to trial
and appellate court records throughout Pennsylvania. This policy
will go into effect on January 6, 2018. It addresses who can access
certain court records, and restricts certain types of information
from being accessed at all.

Confidential documents (tax returns and schedules, W-2s,
1099s, wages stubs, earning statements, bank and credit card
statements, check registers, loan applications, medical and
psychological records, Office of Children & Youth records,
educational records, marital property inventories, pretrial
statements, and agreements between the parties) will now be
filed as "confidential documents" which means that they will be
accompanied by a Confidential Document form, to be filed along
with the document.

There is a general presumption that most court records are
open to the public, with several exceptions. Historically, the only
way to access court records was to go to the Courthouse to access
the files you wanted to see. However, because more and more
counties are making dockets and docket entries available to the
general public online, along with concerns about privacy and
identity theft, there is a growing need to address what type of
information is available to the general public.

So, what does this mean for Montgomery County
practitioners? The Court has enacted local rules of Judicial
Administration, Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, and
Orphans' Court to implement the Public Access Policy and require
the filing of a redacted and unredacted version of documents with
confidential information. As aforementioned, certification of
compliance is required, and all filers will be required to complete
and file a Certificate of Compliance as a separate page at the end
of every filing. Also, filers are encouraged to omit confidential
information and confidential documents not essential to the
matters to be decided to minimize the need for redaction, and
where possible, to file documents that contain no confidential

This Public Access Policy addresses the accessibility of
records by the public, including how to obtain records and the
fees associated with these records. The policy delineates what
information is available in the Court filing offices, online, or not
at all. Additionally, the policy addresses what information the
filing party needs to redact before filing a document that may be
available to the public and what types of confidential documents
cannot be made available to the public at all. Significantly, all
filing parties must certify that they have complied with the
provisions of the Public Access Policy, and may be sanctioned if
they don't.
On documents that contain Social Security numbers, bank
account numbers, driver's license numbers, children's names and
birthdates, and information about abuse victims, a redacted and
an unredacted version will now need to be filed, so that a viewing
party only sees the redacted version. Other counties may opt
to implement a different procedure, which will involve filing a
Confidential Information Form along with a redacted pleading.
The Confidential Information Form would be submitted along
with the filing.

Additionally, on the Court filing front, PACFile (Pennsylvania
Court's Electronic Filing System) is coming to the Criminal
Division in Montgomery County in late January 2018! PACFile
allows attorneys (and agencies) to submit filings on a case at any
time and from anywhere - essentially - electronic case access
on the go. PACFile has been available for Montgomery County
Juvenile & Dependency cases since February 2017. PACFile is
accessed on the Unified Judicial System (UJS) Portal website, and
is the same system used by the Pennsylvania Appellate Courts.
So, what does PACFile mean for Criminal, Dependency,
and Juvenile Court practitioners? It means offices will have the
ability to file Motions, Petitions, Entries of Appearance, etc.,
electronically, and PACFile-registered users will have the ability to
view cases and electronic documents. Also, notifications are sent
to PACFile-registered participants when any document is filed
on the case. This will be a wonderful feature for any law office,
and the Court is looking forward to this enhanced service to
Montgomery County practitioners.

WINTER 2017-18 25

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of SIDEBAR Winter 2017-18

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