The motion specifically request an amendment to Supreme Court Rule 123 and render an Administrative Order with an immediate effective date which includes:
(17) Remote Electronic Access. “Remote Electronic Access” means access by electronic means that permits the viewer to search, inspect, or copy a record without the need to physically visit a court facility.
(c) General Provisions.
(d) Access to Case Records.
(e) Access to Administrative Records.
(f) Access to Records in Paper Medium.
(g) Remote Electronic Access to Case Records.
(1) A court may [MUST] provide remote electronic access to case records as follows:
(A) Parties, attorneys, and arbitrators may[MUST]be provided remote electronic access, upon registering, to case records which are not sealed in all case types in which the person is an attorney of record, arbitrator, or named party, including an individual, partnership, corporation, association, or public or private organization.
A motion has been filed in the Arizona Supreme Court asking for expedited consideration of an amendment to Supreme Court Rule 123 in order to grant “equal remote access” to court records. Currently, only one county; Pima, denies pro per litigants the same electronic access to records and filing privileges given to attorneys in active cases.
According to the motion filed by Patricia Cummins, the Pima County Clerk’s office denies a “litigant’s due process, fair hearings, and Equal Access under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
This year, the Arizona Legislature passed HB2220, which requires courts to “provide electronic access and filing privileges to pro se litigants if they have been made available to attorneys.” However, the Supreme Court’s lobbyist, Amy Love, and Trey Williams, a lobbyist for the AZ Association of Counties, fought the bill resulting in the bill having a delayed with an effective date of January 1, 2018.
That delay keeps A.R.S. § 12-284.02 unchanged for now. A.R.S. § 12-284.02 only states that the presiding judge may provide for the electronic filing of documents, but does not specify who is granted access.
As the ADI reported in March, across Arizona, judges do grant access to pro per litigants despite the lack of language in the law granting access. Pima County is the hold out.
“Pima County has claimed that they would need to go to great expense in order to ensure that its residents have equal access to court records, but the Pima County Superior Court already gives remote electronic access to attorneys. There is a process and system already in place,” reported the ADI.
Cummins contacted Hellon, and the Arizona Association of Superior Court Clerks advising them that the “citizens are disappointed with Pima’s clerk denying Equal Access to records and providing it to only attorneys, giving one side of litigation a clear advantage, the side with an attorney who is provided remote electronic access by and through the Pima Clerk.”
Related article: Bill Would Protect Pro Se Litigants’ Equal Access In Pima County