May 2017
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Tina Skirvin, civil and criminal case manager for Trace Investigations, recently attended the annual conference of the National Defender Investigator Association. NDIA offers nationally recognized training and continuing education for legal investigators who specialize in criminal defense work. Tina holds the distinguished Certified Criminal Defense Investigator designation, awarded by the Criminal Defense Investigation Training Council.

"... as to the nature and bounds of 'public records,' who then knows?"

- The American Archivist, 
Oliver W. Holmes

We are grateful to have the opportunity to provide you this valuable information. We take special care to ensure the information we provide you in "Tracings" is the latest and most current information available .
In this edition, we address how access to court records is threatened in many jurisdictions while enhanced in others.

The goal of this e-newsletter is to provide you with critical information that will help you prevail in your business affairs wherever fact finding is an essential component. We will share what we have learned in our 30+ years as professional investigators and intelligence analysts.

We want to write about topics that will assist you in succeeding in your business endeavors. Please e-mail us your topics of interest to
We encourage you to share our e-newsletter with others in your sphere of influence. 
The Trace Team

art1Public Record Access: The closed record creep
Indiana's Advisory Task Force on Remote Access to Privacy of Electronic Court Records was created in February 2016 to study how to better regulate access to the public record and provide recommendations to the Supreme Court. It is comprised of members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches; press; and educators.
The task force met six times in 2016 to review current practices and concerns. Following the study, beginning March 1, 2017, a wide range of Indiana trial court documents will be available online for free at through the state's case management system, Odyssey. Nearly 70% of the states newly filed cases can be found on which is used by 258 courts in 60 counties.

Though the term may sound ancient, archiving gives no indication of becoming obsolete. Since the earliest organized civilizations, with tariffs, disagreements and treaties, some sort of documentation has been needed. There are a number of reasons that records, specifically judicial records are available to the public. Access to records promotes government accountability, assures that proceedings are conducted fairly, and enhances the performance of all involved.

While public information can be beneficial, it also poses as a threat to the public's safety. Access to public records, which are indeed the public's property, might increase reluctance to
... Read More

art2"The accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial"
Allowing open court records is the foundation of judicial rectitude, grounded in the First Amendment, Sixth Amendment and common law. Since the dawn of the digital age, access to public records in the United States has increased rapidly; however the change of accessibility has created complex issues regarding privacy, standards, document authentication, and systems interoperability. This matter has opened a discussion between judiciaries nationwide, to consider the merits and perils of providing public access to court records. How that discussion eventually unfolds could result in conflicting rules and regulations from state to state, especially if local custodians of the public record are allowed any authority to make individual determinations on who gets access, and when and how that access is granted. Many of us see the greatest danger for the Sixth Amendment:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.[i]

In federal criminal trials, access to discovery for a defendant's attorneys has always been a slow and arduous task. Often times, no discovery... Read More

a1[i] Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School, accessed May 15, 2017 at