California DOB Redaction Information
CALIFORNIA REMOVES DATE OF BIRTH FROM COURT RECORDS
Because of the decision in the All of Us or None – Riverside Chapter vs. W. Samuel Hamrick, Clerk case ( https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/D076524.DOCX ), California Superior courts have been removing the date-of-birth search field from their online portals and their public-access terminals in the court houses. This causes a severe impact on background screening because the only identifier remaining on the publicly available record is often name, which is not enough to conclude that the record is about any specific person.
July 15th Update:
On July 15, PBSA submitted an amicus letter asking the California Supreme Court to address this order from the ruling. In this letter, PBSA asked the court to take up the issue, which is nearly unprecedented because neither party to the case actually appealed the issue. Following a supplemental amicus letter on July 22, a total of 34 other organizations had joined PBSA’s letter. On August 13, PBSA updated the court that the counties for over half of California’s population had removed date of birth from their online portals and over 43% had removed date of birth from public access terminals.
August 20th Update:
As of August 20, the following counties have removed date of birth from their online portals and their public-access terminals: Los Angeles (population 10m), Riverside (2.4m), Kern (900k), Ventura (840k), and San Joaquin (760k). Additionally, the following counties have removed date of birth from their online portals, but not their public-access terminals: Santa Clara (population 1.9m), Alameda (1.67m), Fresno (999k), Tulare (466k), Monterey (428k), and Yuba (78k). Additionally, San Bernardino (population 2.18m) is working to retire its current portal and terminals in favor of a system that will not give access to date of birth.
As of August 20, 2021, Los Angeles County has issued a new policy, under which clerks will NOT verify full date of birth. This announcement limits access to month and year of birth on the record. It should be noted that as of August 24, 2021, clerks are still verifying date of birth in person at the remaining jurisdictions listed above. However, the processes that they are using are causing severe delays – over 30 days in some courts. No background screener can avoid this problem.
September 1st Update:
On September 1, the California Supreme Court declined to review our appeal. This denial means that courts in California will continue redacting date of birth from both their online and public access terminals. It is also very possible that court clerks will stop providing clerk assistance to verify full dates of birth – as discussed above in Los Angeles County. Criminal-records checks in California will continue to become more difficult, and in some cases impossible. Therefore, we will be expediting additional strategies, in conjunction with our rules change request and pursuing legislation, to seek a change to the on-the-ground reality. With the California Supreme Court refusing to hear our case, those efforts are unlikely to have effect before late 2022 at the earliest.
PBSA Members: Be sure to sign up for the PBSA Community Forum, Government Relations for regular updates on these initiatives.