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Protecting A Litigant's Privacy
NOTICE: PROTECTING A LITIGANT'S PRIVACY IN CERTAIN
Friday, January 20, 2006
On July 1, 2005, Rule 11 of the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts began allowing parties to protect from public view social security numbers, financial account numbers, and financial source documents submitted to the court in all case types. Parties must follow the correct procedure in order to obtain this protection.
Social security numbers, employer identification numbers and financial account numbers (referred to collectively as "Restricted Identifiers") are to be placed only on a separate sheet entitled Confidential Information Form 11.1. The Restricted Identifiers should not appear on any other pleading or document submitted by a party (except on a Sealed Financial Source Document discussed below). Pleadings and documents can refer to the Confidential Information Form where necessary, and the Confidential Information Form will not be accessible to the public. The burden is on the party submitting a pleading or other document to make sure that all Restricted Identifiers appear only on the Confidential Information Form 11.1. Court staff will not be responsible for redacting any Restricted Identifiers from pleadings and documents (other than the Confidential Information Form 11.1 itself) submitted by parties on or after July 1, 2005. "Financial Source Documents" (income tax returns, W-2 forms and schedules, wage stubs, credit card statements, financial institution statements, check registers, and other financial information deemed financial source documents by court order) are to be submitted to the court under a cover sheet designated "Sealed Financial Source Documents" (form 11.2 of the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts). This cover sheet must list all Financial Source Documents. The cover sheet is accessible to the public but the listed documents remain off limits to the public unless otherwise ordered by the court.
Tips for preparing and submitting Restricted Identifiers and Financial Source Documents: Make sure that your Confidential Information Form 11.1 and Sealed Financial Source Documents cover sheet (Form 11.2) are not buried in your submission at the time of filing with the court. You might consider marking it with a removable post it note or other similar temporary marker or submitting it on different colored paper so that court staff can readily spot it. If you are submittingproposed orders or decisions for the court as is often done in regard to motions, use the Confidential Information Form 11.1 if the order needs to reference Restricted Identifiers. These procedures have been in place in family law cases forseveral years but were limited to social security numbers and tax returns. The revised rules expand the scope to include all Restricted Identifiers and Financial Source Documents, and apply the process to all case types. You will find the recent rule changes and the new forms on the state court website www.courts.state.mn.us).
Parties and attorneys who do not follow these rules will risk public exposure of the restricted identifiers and financial source documents they submit to the court. They may also risk sanctions from the court if the exposure relates to another party's or person's restricted identifiers or financial source documents. Great care should be taken when submitting these items to the court.