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In the absence of a statute that limits public access to court records or a court order sealing records, court records are presumptively open to the public (see Nicholson v State Commission on Judicial Conduct, 50 NY2d 597, 613 [1980]). The rules and conditions of public access to court case records are the same whether those records are made available in paper form or electronically (Report to the Chief Judge of the State of New York, Commission on Public Access to Court Records [February 2004]).

Parties filing with the Court of Appeals are responsible for ensuring that confidential and sensitive materials are identified and appropriately labeled confidential or redacted to prevent public disclosure. Failure to comply will result in rejection of the filing and require refiling of your papers in compliance with this notice.

I. Confidential Filings

If a filing is confidential and not subject to public inspection under New York law, the word "CONFIDENTIAL" must be prominently marked on the cover of the document, and the filer must provide a letter addressed to the Clerk and copied to all parties stating the basis for the confidentiality of the filing. If a sealing order has been issued, a copy of the order should be provided with the letter to the Clerk. If only part of a filing is confidential, that part must be filed in a separate volume, and marked and explained as stated above.

II. Sensitive Material

A filing not subject to confidential treatment might nevertheless contain sensitive material not appropriate for public view. Information of this type includes, but is not limited to: social security, taxpayer identification or financial account numbers; full dates of birth; exact street addresses; e-mail addresses; telephone numbers; names of minor children; names of children's schools; names of employers; or other information that would identify a person whose identity should not be revealed (e.g., a victim of a sex crime or domestic violence). Filers should omit from their briefs sensitive material not pertinent to an issue on appeal. If omission is not possible or if sensitive material is contained in the record or appendix, redaction is appropriate. For example, for social security, taxpayer identification or other financial account numbers, only the last four digits should be used. With dates of birth, the year is often sufficient. When identifying minor children, initials are appropriate. When sensitive information is pertinent to the issues on appeal, and the filer does not know how to proceed, the filer should contact the Clerk's Office to discuss options for presenting the material.

Some of the statutory grounds for treating a filing as confidential appear below; however, the list is for assistance only, and is not necessarily exhaustive.

  1. Youthful offender adjudications (CPL 720.15 and 720.35)
  2. Successful completion of a judicially sanctioned drug treatment program (CPL 160.58)
  3. Grand jury reports or minutes (CPL 190.25[4][a])
  4. Juror questionnaires and records (Judiciary Law 509[a])
  5. Probation or pre-sentence reports or memoranda (CPL 390.50)
  6. Criminal history records (e.g., arrest records, rapsheet) (CPL 160.50[3]; 42 USC 3789[g]; 28 CFR Part 20)
  7. Alcohol and drug treatment records (Mental Hygiene Law 22.05; 42 CFR Part 2)
  8. Documents that identify a victim of a sex offense or an offense that involves the transmission of HIV (Civil Rights Law  50-b)
  9. Sex offender registration forms (Correction Law 168-b)
  10. Applications to disclose HIV-related information (Public Health Law  2785[3]); or proceedings to compel the examination or isolation of persons suspected of having venereal disease (Public Health Law  2301[3])
  11. Civil commitment proceedings under Mental Hygiene Law article 10 (Mental Hygiene Law 33.13[c])
  12. Involuntary commitment proceedings (Mental Hygiene Law 9.31[f])
  13. Proceedings to commit a mentally ill inmate (Corrections Law 402[6])
  14. Records concerning a patient in a facility licensed or operated by the Office of Mental Health or the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (Mental Hygiene Law 33.13)
  15. Matrimonial actions (Domestic Relations Law 235)
  16. Adoption proceedings (Domestic Relations Law 114)
  17. Family Court proceedings (Family Court Act 166)
  18. Performance evaluations in personnel records of police officers, firefighters and correction officers (Civil Rights Law 50-a)