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.