California Bill Removing Public Record Search Restrictions Moves Forward

A bill passed by the California legislature could mean good news for those that use public records from the state’s court system. Reliable access to these records is essential for background check companies.

In June 2022,  we discussed legislation introduced after a recent California appellate court decision, All of Us or None v. Hamrick. In its ruling, the California Court of Appeals held that “…allowing the public to search an electronic index by inputting an individual’s known date of birth or driver’s license number constitutes a violation of [California court rules].” This ruling has dramatically impacted what personally identifiable information can be used to search a court’s electronic index.

After the court ruling, SB-1262 was introduced.  SB-1262 states, “The clerk of the superior court shall keep indexes to ensure ready reference to any action or proceeding filed in the court. There shall be separate indexes of plaintiffs and defendants in civil actions and defendants in criminal actions… Publicly accessible electronic indexes of defendants in criminal cases shall permit searches and filtering of results based on a defendant’s driver’s license number or date of birth, or both.”

In addition to being able to search court records by name, this will allow background screening providers that perform criminal record checks in California to search by date of birth and driver’s license number. This will help make sure that the records returned belong to the candidate.

Progress Forward

On August 31, 2022, the California Assembly passed SB-1262. The bill was delivered to the Governor for his signature on September 13, 2022. The governor has until September 29 to sign or veto the bill.  If enacted, the bill will go into effect on January 1, 2023.

Employers that the current limited public record access may impact are encouraged to voice support for the bill by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA).

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