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Privacy and Public Access to Court Information

Purpose

At Doxpop we believe that access to public information must be delivered in a manner that acknowledges the American principles of both open access to government information and the privacy of individuals. While we try to strike the appropriate balance in this regard we also ask that you join us in learning about the issues and using the information we present in an appropriate way. This page is intended to point you to some of the government policies regarding the use of public information and provoke some thought about the nature and appropriate use of public information.

Doxpop information is not the official record

The information included in the Doxpop Services is obtained from publicly available information. The information and records provided through the Doxpop Services are not official public records. All public information found on the Doxpop web site may be obtained directly from the public office maintaining the information at little or no cost. Most Doxpop information is obtained through regular automated updates from the public office maintaining the official records. The User is advised to take note of the "as of" date for information provided through the Doxpop Services to learn when the last update was obtained.

Innocent until proven guilty

First and foremost, it must be noted that the names of many individuals who have never been convicted of a crime appear on our web site. Please take care to always look carefully for the verdict in each case. The manner of denoting this varies by jurisdiction. "Innocent until proven guilty" is far more than a slogan in this context- it is the only legal test. Impugning the character of a person who has not been convicted on the basis of appearance in a court case is both morally wrong and illegal.

Duty to inform the person of the source of information

Although there are many laws governing the use of public information in making decisions, one of the most important common-sense laws is the duty to inform a person of the source of your information if you decide to not do business with them due to what you have learned from public records. This is important because not all records are accurate. People may make mistakes while entering information at a court and the only way we will know is if the problem is pointed out. Everyone should have the opportunity to challenge information if they believe it is incorrect. If contacted about such an error, we will make every effort to place the person in contact with the appropriate court to get the information corrected.

State and Federal regulations regarding the use of public information

In addition to the common-sense rules pointed out above, there are many other less obvious laws governing the use of public information. If you intend to use the information gathered from this web site to either make a business decision about a party or make an assessment of that party's character that will be communicated to others, then you must abide by the laws regarding use of public information. Below are links to the laws and rules that we are aware of. This list may not be exhaustive.

Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. Section 1681 et seq.):
(PDF document only)

Federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act (18 U.S.C. Section 2721 et seq.):
(Text only)

Indiana Supreme Court Administrative Rule 9:
(Web Page) (PDF Document of all administrative rules)

Indiana Courts Stance on Public Access

The Supreme Court of Indiana has taken a clear stance that with a few well-defined exceptions, it should be presumed that all court records are open to any person. Administrative Rule 9 defines those exceptions and outlines procedures for obtaining access to those records that are deemed "open". In accordance with Administrative Rule 9 and other rules governing the release of court information, Doxpop excludes the following information from its database:

  1. Mental Health cases
  2. Adoption cases
  3. Juvenile Paternity cases
  4. "Child in need of services" (CHINS) cases
  5. Cases of other types that have been flagged as "confidential" by order of the Court.
  6. Information other than name of:
    • Victims of a crime
    • Witnesses to a crime
    • Plaintiffs in Civil Protective Orders

More can be learned about Indiana Administrative Rule 9 by perusing the Indiana Court Public Access Handbook or reading the text of Administrative Rule 9

In accordance with our own policies and common-sense, for any party, Doxpop excludes Social Security Numbers and other Personal Identification Numbers that are commonly used for authorization purposes to the extent that they can be identified and removed in an automated fashion.

Other Resources

If you are interested in learning more about access to public records in general or court records in particular, these links may help you get started: