California Governor Vetoes Bill That Would Remove Public Record Search Restrictions

Challenges to court record access in California continue to be a critical issue for the background screening industry and the employers that rely on those records.

The issue began with the May 2021 California Appellate court decision of All of Us or None v. Hamrick. In the decision, the court held that:

“…allowing the public to search an electronic [court] 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 had a drastic impact on what personal identifiers can be used to search a court’s electronic index.

State lawmakers heard the outcry from the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), background screeners, and others. SB-1262 was introduced and 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.”

On May 24, 2022, the bill passed the state Senate with a vote of 37-0. The state Assembly had little opposition to the bill, passing it with a 53-9 vote on August 31, 2022. It was then sent to California Governor Gavin Newsome for signature.

Governor Newsome vetoed the bill on September 29, 2022. At this time, the vetoed bill has been returned to the California Senate. The PBSA stated they,

“…will be regrouping with allies to determine what our next and best possible options are at this stage.”

Verified Credentials will continue to monitor the progress in California and provide updates. Employers may want to work with their legal team to determine the best approach for screening candidates with a history in the state of California.

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