California DOB Redaction Information
DATE OF BIRTH FROM COURT RECORDS
California Court Decision and You
A decision by the California Court of Appeal has resulted in CA Courts refusing to respond to research requests, limit the number of queries that can be made in person, or limit the amount of PII provided when a potential record is found. These decisions are being implemented in CA Courts across the state with little to no notice and are impacting public records research and reporting.
What is at Stake?
Because of the decision in the All of Us or None – Riverside Chapter vs. W. Samuel Hamrick, Clerk case, 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.
Why it Matters.
The removal of this and other important identifiers from search databases significantly impairs background screening professionals to accurately confirm the identity of prospective employees or residents. Accurate background checks are essential in ensuring your place of employment, children and community are safe.
In addition to CDIA and PBSA’s motion to California State Supreme Court to hear our case and grant our request for relief – which was not granted, PBSA also made a request to the California Judicial Council, requesting that it update Rule 2.507 to include a subsection affirming that the rule does not require clerks to change their longstanding practices, and providing clarity on the ability to conduct background searches in the state of California.
Unfortunately, PBSA received notice on December 15, 2021, from the California Judicial Council that our request had been denied. PBSA and CDIA are working collectively to identify whether the request can be appealed or resubmitted.
In addition to All of Us or None, additional litigation has been filed in Sonoma and Merced Counties related to this subject matter. We are tracking this litigation and reviewing opportunities to engage. Additional information coming soon.
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.
As of August 20, the following counties have removed date of birth from their online portals and their public-access terminals: Kern (900k), Los Angeles (10m), Riverside (2.4m), San Joaquin (760k), Ventura (840k).
The following counties have removed date of birth from their online portals, but NOT their public-access terminals: Alameda (1.67m), Fresno (999k), Monterey (428k), Tulare (466k), Santa Clara (1.9m), Yuba (78k).
San Bernardino County, with a population of 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.
On 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.
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 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.
Leading the Way.
PBSA and CDIA ARE USING THEIR COLLECTIVE INDUSTRY VOICES TO PROTECT YOU.
Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) and the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) are leading the effort to overturn the decision in All of Us or None of Us vs. Hamrick, and they are also leading the effort to petition the California Judicial Council.
For more information about this effort or other public record access issues, please contact:
Melissa Sorenson, Executive Director
Brent Smoyer, JD, PBSA State Government Relations & Grassroots Director
Jose Dimas, PBSA Government Relations Director of Public Records Access
Eric J. Ellman, Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs
Sign up for the PBSA Community Forum, Government Relations Section