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Court of Appeals increases public access

The state Court of Appeals will launch a new online service Feb. 1.

The Court of Appeals Public Access and Search System, also called Court-PASS, will provide an improved method for filing records and briefs in digital format on appeals to the Court of Appeals and, for the first time, offers universal online access to the documents through a publicly searchable database on the court’s website.

Court-PASS will be maintained as a permanent public archive for documents related to Court of Appeals cases pending or filed after Jan. 1. Anyone may search or browse the database free of charge. They may also download documents from every stage of the case, including motion papers for civil motions in which leave to appeal has been granted, and briefs and records in civil and criminal appeals.

Court-PASS also incorporates the videos and transcripts of oral arguments, as well as court decisions, all of which are already available on the court’s website.

The database offers three retrieval methods: The docket, a browse-and-search function that contains a snapshot of frequently requested information for all undecided cases.

Mechanisms have been built in to ensure attorneys meet their responsibilities with respect to confidential and sensitive matters such as Social Security or financial account numbers and the names of minor children. Sealed documents will not be available.

The program also offers a more advanced system by which hard copies are reduced to CDs or DVDs and mailed to the clerk’s office. It also allows parties with appeals, certified questions pursuant to Section 500.27 of the Court of Appeals Rules of Practice, or judicial conduct matters before the court to directly upload to the court digital copies of records and briefs. In addition, the number of required hard copies is reduced from an original and 19 copies to an original and nine copies.

The court’s rules have been amended to address Court-PASS and certain other minor matters.