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High court judges lead CLE on changing times at alma mater

Audience listening to the panel at Mizzou Law

The audience listens as three Missouri Supreme Court justices lead a CLE panel at the University of Missouri School of Law on Sept. 23, 2022. (Photo by Jack Rintoul from the University of Missouri Communications Department)

Five of Missouri’s highest-ranking state judges graduated from Mizzou Law. Three of them led a Sept. 23 CLE panel that began with future redaction guidelines.

Government Relations Counsel Patricia Churchill, another alumna, moderated the panel held in Hulston Hall. Judges Patricia Breckenridge, Mary R. Russell and Chief Justice Paul C. Wilson led the CLE. In between each presentation, Wilson joked that a test would follow.

Breckenridge started first with how lawyers will be expected to redact documents before filing them with courts after July 1, 2023. Select courts will be phasing in remote public access to files at a to-be-determined schedule.

Before, anyone could visit a courthouse and open a file if it wasn’t closed or sealed. Today, members of the public at home can view docket sheets, liens on real estate and some final civil judgments, but not much else unless they visit a courthouse’s public access terminal.

“But there’s been great interest and much concern that most people don’t go to the courthouse,” Breckenridge said. “And the citizens of Missouri are used to being able to pull up their phones, or their iPads, or look on their computers and get the information they need from government offices.”

Breckenridge said the humans uploading files to the system with these changes need to update their filing practices along with the software that’s been ready for use.

The Missouri Bar asked the courts to postpone remote access implementation until lawyers were trained on proper redaction of litigants’ private or confidential information as well as other parties in the case, Breckenridge said, which “historically might have been on a paper copy and no one would see.”

Once remote access is phased in, documents will be assigned a security level between 1 and 9. Level 1 documents are public, while expunged cases have confidential Level 9 documents, which are only open to select Office of State Courts Administrator (OSCA) employees and court personnel.

In between those extremes, information requiring redaction includes a slew of ID numbers as well as those for financial accounts, credit and debit cards; passwords; identifiable information for informants, victims, witnesses, minors and those protected via orders of protection or restraining orders; and confidential case numbers.

Senior Judge Gary Lynch and Catherine Zacharias, who serves as legal counsel for the OSCA, created the PowerPoint presentation. Breckenridge said for those who missed this CLE, it won’t be the last opportunity to review the presentation for those who missed this one.

“If you go to any CLE in the next eight or nine months, you’ll probably see it again,” Breckenridge said.

Missouri Lawyers Media was a sponsor of the 150th Anniversary celebration during which the CLE discussion took place.  

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