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ISPLA Alert: Federal Courts Destroying Records

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  • Peter Psarouthakis
    ISPLA has learned of a shocking development within the US District Court system that will eliminate the ability of professional investigators to search federal
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 16, 2011
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      ISPLA has learned of a shocking development within the US District Court
      system that will eliminate the ability of professional investigators to
      search federal court records created before 1995. The implications of this
      new policy are far reaching and potentially devastating to the people we
      represent.



      The Administrative Office (AO) of the United States has announced that on
      April 1, 2011, it will begin destroying archived records of federal district
      court cases which were filed after 1969 and which were archived during the
      period 1970 to 1995. For example, more than 25,000 cases from the Western
      District of Michigan alone will be destroyed. In addition, myriad other
      federal records are also slated to shredded, including records of the
      Federal Maritime Commission, Department of the Interior, Department of
      Justice, and the US Bankruptcy Court.

      When a case filed in the district court has been closed, the file is
      maintained by the District Court for a period of time, but it is ultimately
      transferred to the National Archives. To reduce the cost of preserving these
      records, the AO has decided to discard approximately 80% of them. The AO has
      no plans to preserve these records electronically. Only the Judgments and
      the docket sheets of the discarded cases will be kept.



      Imagine the consequences of this proposed action. Background checks on
      litigants, potential business partners and prospective employees will be
      seriously hampered; critical appellate information will be erased;



      The wanton destruction of an entire generation of public records is utterly
      unacceptable and action must be taken to prohibit this from occurring.



      Since there was no public comment period, ISPLA is preparing a response to
      the National Archive and Records Administration and will represent the
      profession in objecting to this poorly conceived policy.



      For more information please visit
      <http://www.ispla.org/currentlegislativenews>
      www.ispla.org/currentlegislativenews , where we have posted the news release
      from the AO's office.



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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