Court’s Responsibility

What is the public record?
Why is it important for court proceedings to remain public records?
Why can’t Trellis remove public records?

What is the public record?

Public records are documents that are not considered confidential. Court records fall squarely within this definition. The right to “access court records to inspect and to copy” was reaffirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1978 and subsequent state cases. Landmark Communications, Inc. v. Virginia, 435 U.S. 829, 839 (1978); Gates v. Discovery Communications Inc., 34 Cal. 4th 679, 696 (2004).

In addition, federal law provides that “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” 47 U.S.C. § 230.

How does a document become part of a public court proceeding?

Any document filed in a case and any court ruling is part of a public court proceeding, with the exception of documents sealed by the court.

Can private information become public record?

Yes. But a court may be receptive to motions to seal or redact private information.

Who is the publisher of public court records?

The courts themselves. Most courts provide an electronic database of court documents.

Why is it important for court proceedings to remain public records?

Public access to records and proceedings holds the courts accountable by ensuring that any errors, oversights, and injustices are transparent. There is no greater public forum than a courtroom, and making public court records accessible to the general public allows society to engage in informed civic debate.

Why can’t Trellis remove public records?

Trellis is committed to furthering access to public records and transparency in the US justice system. As data on our site is a matter of public record, published by court and government sites, Trellis is unable to remove public data absent a court order sealing the public record.