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MDJ Records - Public Access Policy

Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania:

District Justice Records

I. Statement of General Policy:

It is the policy of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) that index, docket and case file information for all matters originating in a District Justice office are public records and shall be available for inspection and photocopying upon request in a reasonable manner. Confidentiality of records, however, is appropriate in certain limited circumstances consistent with personal privacy and security as provided by law (e.g., identity of child victims of sexual or physical abuse, 42 Pa. C.S.A. §5988(a)).  

II. Policy Implementation

  1. Case information available at the District Justice Office
    1. Case Indexes: indexes are intended to facilitate access to case files and dockets. District Justice staff shall assist the requestor in identifying the specific cases and docket numbers of interest.
    2. Case Dockets: printed copies of case dockets (i.e., Criminal Case Docket Transcript, Motor Vehicle Docket, Non-Traffic/Summary Docket, Civil Case Progress Record) shall be provided upon request.
    3. If a docket for a disposed case is not immediately available due to archiving, District Justice staff shall advise the requestor that the docket will be retrieved from the AOPC and made available through the District Justice office.
       Requests for docket or case index information that cannot be satisfied without substantially impeding the orderly conduct of office business may be referred to the AOPC. See II-B, below, for AOPC case access requests.
    4. Case Files: case files and all materials contained therein shall be available for on-site inspection and photocopying. (Fee for photocopying shall not exceed $0.50 per page.) Security, possession, custody and control of case files shall continue to be the responsibility of the District Justice or his/her designated staff.
  2. Public access requests referred by the District Justice to AOPC and requests involving more than one magisterial district submitted directly to AOPC.
    1. Request Form: All requests must be submitted to the AOPC on a form specified by the AOPC. The completed form must include the date of the request and the requestor’s signature acknowledging acceptance of all disclaimers printed on the form.
    2. Extracts Provided: AOPC policy is to provide only extracts of statistical, docket or case index information. The following information will not be released:
      1. Address of party or witness, social security number, telephone number, fax number, pager number, driver’s license number, vehicle registration number, state fingerprint identification number (SID), or other identifier which would present a risk to personal security or privacy;
      2. Names of juvenile victims of abuse or juveniles charged with crimes subject to the Juvenile Act, 42 Pa. C.S. §6301 et seq.;
      3. Names of individuals designated “confidential” by a district justice when the release of the name of the individual will impair a person’s safety or privacy; and
      4. Information likely to impair public safety.
    3. Priority of Requests: AOPC would like to promptly satisfy all requests; however, limited staff/computer resources require that governmental requests will be given priority.
    4. Choice of Medium: The requestor should indicate the preferred choice of medium (e.g., Internet, tape, diskette, paper) for receiving the requested information. AOPC will accommodate such preferences to the extent that they are consistent with our efforts to conserve staff and computer resources.
    5. Costs of Processing Requests: Costs shall be assessed based on the actual costs of the report medium, a pro-rata share of computer and staff time, plus shipping and handling. AOPC will provide a statement of costs to the requestor, which must be paid in full, before staff is assigned to the project.
  3. Formula for the assessment of costs as of 1/1/97:
    1. Staff time for processing requests: ½ hour rate = $14.00
    2. Computer equipment time for processing requests: ½ hour rate = $25.00
    3. Costs of report medium: current market rate
    4. Costs of shipping and handling: postage plus market rate for supplies

Amended December 13, 1996; Effective date January 1, 1997