Redactions and Confidentiality
by Caitlin Szematowicz on July 27th, 2020 in Litigation
If you are filing a pleading with the court in the State of Florida, it is important to understand that certain information is deemed “sensitive information.” If information is sensitive information, that information needs to be redacted before the pleading containing the sensitive information is filed with the court.
The Florida Rules of Judicial Administration sets forth what is deemed “sensitive information” and how to properly redact sensitive information before filing the document.
The Florida Rule of Judicial Administration Rule 2.425 is entitled “minimization of the filing of sensitive information.” Sub division (a) of this Rule provides that unless otherwise authorized by the Rules, a statute, another rule of court, or if the court orders otherwise, information designated as sensitive information filed with the court must be limited to the following format:
- The initials of a person known to be a minor;
- The year of birth of a person’s birth date;
- No portion of any: (a) social security number, (b) bank account number, (c) credit card account number, (d) charge account number, or (e) debit account number;
- The last four digits of any: (a) taxpayer identification number (also referred to as a “TIN”), (b) employee identification number, (c) driver’s license number, (d) passport number, (e) telephone number, (f) financial account number, except as set forth in the Rule, (g) brokerage account number; (h) insurance policy account number, (i) loan account number, (j) customer account number, or (k) patient or health care number;
- a truncated version of any (a) email address, (b) computer user name, (c) password, or (d) personal identification number (otherwise known as a “PIN”); and
- A truncated version of any other sensitive information as provided by court order.
The Florida Rule of Judicial Administration Rule 2.425 sets forth several exceptions to the above-referenced designations. Sub division (a) does not apply in the following scenarios:
- An account number which identifies the property alleged to be the subject of a proceeding;
- The record of an administrative or agency proceeding;
- The record in appellate or review proceedings;
- The birth date of a minor whenever the birth date is necessary for the court to establish or maintain subject matter jurisdiction;
- The name of a minor in any order relating to parental responsibility, time-sharing, or child support;
- The name of a minor in any document or order affecting the minor’s ownership of real property;
- The birth date of a party in a writ of attachment or notice to payor;
- In traffic and criminal proceedings – (a) a pro se filing; (b) a court filing that is related to a criminal matter or investigation and that is prepared before the filing of a criminal charge or is not filed as part of any docketed criminal case; (c) an arrest or search warrant or any information in support thereof; (d) a charging document and an affidavit or other documents filed in support of any charging document, including any driving records; (e) a statement of particulars; (f) discovery material introduced into evidence or otherwise filed with the court; (g) all information necessary for the proper issuance and execution of a subpoena duces tecum; (h) information needed to contact witnesses who will support the defendant’s claim of newly discovered evidence under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851; and (i) information needed to complete a sentencing scoresheet;
- Information used by the clerk for case maintenance purposes or the courts for case management purposes; and
- Information which is relevant and material to an issue before the court.
The Florida Rule of Judicial Administration Rule 2.425 further provides for remedies if a party violates this Rule. Upon motion by a party or interested person or sua sponte by the court, the court may order remedies, sanctions or both for a violation of subdivision (a) of the Rule. However, it is important to note that following notice and an opportunity to respond, the court may impose sanctions only if such filing was not made in good faith.
The Rule does not restrict a party’s right to move for protective order, to move to file documents under seal, or to request a determination of the confidentiality of records. Further, the Rule does not affect the application of constitutional provisions, statutes, or rules of court regarding confidential information or access to public information.
In addition to Florida Rule of Judicial Administration Rule 2.425, other applicable legal principles may apply to your particular situation. For instance, a party can move to file documents under seal. A party can also file a “motion to determine confidentiality of court records.”
In fact, certain cases may be deemed confidential. The following cases are deemed confidential in Pinellas County:
- Termination of Parental Rights;
- Gestational Surrogacy;
- Children and Families in Need of Services;
- Juvenile Delinquency;
- Waiver of Parental Notification of Termination of Pregnancy by Minor;
- Paternity Actions when the Clerks receive written notice, accompanied by a copy of a marriage license, that the biological mother in a paternity action has subsequently married the purported father; and
- Marchman Act proceedings.
Furthermore, clerks are authorized to redact the following documents or information as confidential, unless otherwise ordered by the court:
- Psychological and Psychiatric Evaluations;
- “Notice of Social Security Number,” Florida Family Law Form;
- Violation of probation reports;
- Florida Department of Law Enforcement criminal history records;
- Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles driver history records;
- A social security number contained in an indictment or information filed by the State Attorney;
- Investigative subpoenas; and
- Applications for or orders authorizing a wiretap, pen register or trap and trace device, or mobile tracking device.
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