Capitol Report

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October 21, 2019

Supreme Court committee seeks to extend presumptive exclusion of medical reports from public access

The Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Public Access to Court Records recommended amendments to extend the presumptive exclusion of medical reports in all case types from public access. The reconsideration of Rule 1:38 was prompted by technological advances, “including the widespread implementation of eCourts.”

“The ongoing implementation of eCourts has brought about the realization of the possibility foreseen in the Albin Report, which possibility likely will increase as electronic filing is made available to self-represented litigants,” the committee said in its report. The committee referenced the 2007 Report of the Supreme Court Special Committee on Public Access to Court Records.

The committee noted that Rule 1:38-3(d)(3) excludes from public access medical reports filed in connection with certain family matters. Those reports include medical, psychiatric, psychological, and alcohol and drug dependency records, reports, and evaluations in matters related to child support, child custody, or parenting time determinations. The committee recognized that these reports may be filed in all case types and in correspondence that requests adjournments or extensions of time due to medical issues. As such, the committee proposed extending the presumptive exclusion of all medical and related records in all case types. This recommendation is consistent with comments the New Jersey State Bar Association submitted in connection with the original 2007 report.

Comments on these proposed amendments must be submitted in writing by Nov. 16, to: Glenn A. Grant, J.A.D., Acting Administrative Director of the Courts, Comments on Proposed Amendments to Rule 1:38– Exclusion of Medical and Related Records from Public Access, Hughes Justice ­Complex, P.O. Box 037, Trenton, NJ 08625-0037, or [email protected]

Order Permits Certain Law Graduates to Appear in Court to Provide Legal Assistance

Law graduates who work at law school-affiliated nonprofit organizations that provide legal assistance for low- and low/moderate-income people to appear on certain matters may appear in court without supervision prior to passage of the New Jersey bar examination. The Supreme Court issued an amendment to Rule 1:21-3 that became effective on Oct. 9.

“The amendments to Rule 1:21-3(a) reinforce the Court’s support of law school-associated nonprofit organizations that assist persons who do not qualify for pro bono legal help and who are unable to afford legal services at standard market rates,” the Supreme Court said. “Allowing law graduates to appear in court without supervision will enable such organizations to employ more law graduates and to provide reduced-fee services to more clients.”