The Connecticut Superior Court Practice Book Rules have been amended as of Jan. 1, 2010 to add a new Section 4-7, generally requiring that sensitive personal identifying information be excluded or redacted from documents filed with the Superior Court, unless the information is required by law or court order to be included in full in such documents.
Practice Book Section 4-2 also has been revised so that lawyers who sign pleadings, motions, and other court papers are automatically certifying that their signed documents comply with new Section 4-7. Under Section 4-7, the responsibility for excluding or redacting protected sensitive personal identifying information from court documents “rests solely with the person filing the document.”
Information that should be omitted or redacted (unless otherwise required by law or court order) includes “date of birth, mother’s maiden name, motor vehicle operator’s license number, Social Security number, other government-issued identification number, health insurance identification number, or any financial account number, security code or personal identification number (PIN).” (This definition is loosely modeled on the definition of “personal identifying information” in Connecticut’s criminal identity theft statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 53a-129a.) For example, in a debt collection action, account numbers should be redacted from pleadings and exhibits filed in the action, including documents offered in evidence at a hearing or trial.
To further the goals of Section 4-7, new Section 11-20B allows for post-filing redaction of sensitive personal identifying information in certain circumstances. More specifically, a party to the action, or the court on its own initiative, or the affected person whose non-redacted personal information appears in a court document, may move to have the information redacted (or, if the information cannot be redacted due to applicable law or court order, to have the document or relevant portions of the document sealed). The Commentary to new Section 11-20B indicates that such motions could be addressed “in open court or at pre-trial conferences, status conferences, conference calls and the like,” and that rulings on such motions could “take place either on or off the record depending upon the circumstances and the agreement of the parties.” In addition, an affected individual “who is not a party to the action would not be required to file a motion to become an interested party or take other formal action to intervene as an interested party, in order to move that his or her personal identifying information be removed from the file.” (Comparable provisions appear in new Section 25-59B of the Superior Court Family Rules.)
Practice Book Sections 4-7 and 11-20B are important new Connecticut rules, adopted to help thwart identity theft and other improper and unnecessary invasions of personal privacy. These rules were published in the July 14, 2009 Connecticut Law Journal, but may not have received the full and undivided attention of the bar at that time. These rules do constitutionally apply to lawyers, unlike (for example) recent attempts by the Federal Trade Commission to impose privacy, data security, and identity theft prevention requirements on members of the bar.
Many Superior Court forms have been revised to remove or modify fields requesting unnecessary personal identifying information. However, the Superior Court for Family Matters has issued a standing order, effective Jan. 1, 2010, clarifying that personal identifying information required on family and family support magistrate court forms is considered “required by law or ordered by the court” for purposes of new Section 4-7.
Additional guidance concerning Section 4-7 may be forthcoming as members of the bar and the judiciary develop more experience with Section 4-7. Meanwhile, as practitioners familiarize themselves with Section 4-7, they may be pleasantly surprised at how infrequently the law requires them to include this type of personal information in full, without redaction, in court documents.