On January 1, 2010, California Rules of Court 10.500 (CRC 10.500) went into effect. CRC 10.500 was established to provide detailed public access provisions relevant to judicial administrative records maintained by state trial and appellate courts, and the Judicial Council. CRC 10.500 applies to non-adjudicative records and does not apply to court records or documents in any case filed in the San Francisco Superior Court. Common examples of judicial administrative records are budget documents, contracts, case filing statistics, and written policies and procedures. The creation of CRC 10.500 was based on the state Public Records Act, which applies to the state executive branch, and includes concepts of the Freedom of Information Act, which applies to federal executive branch agencies. CRC 10.500 was adopted to “grant broad access to judicial administrative records, and at the same time recognize the unique role of the judicial branch of government,” Chief Justice Ronald M. George stated in a December 15, 2009 News Release issued by the Judicial Council of California.
The San Francisco Superior Court receives a high volume of CRC 10.500 requests each year, and we are experiencing a marked increase over the past two years. In the current process, CRC 10.500 requests are sent to the Court by regular mail or by e-mail. The format of each request varies drastically, which requires considerable time and resources to be able to abstract the information sought from each request.
Pursuant to CRC 10.500, there are strict time limits on when the Court is to send a response to the requestor and tracking these time limits and responses is currently being done manually through an Excel spreadsheet and Outlook email reminders. It is also a common occurrence for the Court to send multiple responses to each requestor and tracking these responses can be time consuming. Finally, the Court routinely sends a generic response that the request was received, and that the Court is working to determine what records may be available, or to extend the time limit for response. To be able to automate the tracking and responding of these requests would ensure that the Court is meeting its requirements under CRC 10.500 and will help reduce the time and resources currently needed to respond to these requests.
Goals and Objectives
The goal of this project is to enhance transparency and access to judicial administrative records through the availability of an online form that will allow the public to more easily request access to records. Additionally, through the development of a request tracking solution, the Court will be better equipped to track and respond to the high number of requests received each year. The online form and request tracking solution will translate into considerable savings in time and resources for the Court. Furthermore, this project aligns with increasing public trust and confidence in the court system.
The Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco seeks a solution that will allow the public to easily complete a request, and for the Court to be able to track and respond to these requests more efficiently. This online form and tracking solution will give us the ability to:
• Create uniformity of all CRC 10.500 requests with an online form to be used by the public;
• Easily track requests throughout the response process;
• Automate functions of the tracking process of CRC 10.500 requests;
• Streamline 10.500 request processing time;
• Upload response templates in the tracking system that can be modified prior to sending; and
• Contact requestors via e-mail only, replacing a hard copy notification process.