Records and Case-File Management
Every court should have a program for managing the creation, maintenance, and disposition of all court records. Any records management program instituted should consider the handling of a file from case initiation to destruction as well as the handling of other court records not necessarily associated with a specific case file. Standards for managing trial court case files, which represent the majority of a court's records management needs, have been established through Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Order 1999-4 and the Michigan Trial Court Case File Management Standards.
Education and training in the area of records management is available through the Institute for Court Management. In addition, the National Center for State Courts has published A Guide to Court Records Management. For more information on this publication and other resources, see the National Center for State Courts website at http://www.ncsconline.org/wc/CourTopics/ResourceGuide.asp?topic=DocMan#210.
Any records management program should be considered in light of caseflow management practices as well. See Caseflow Management: A Practitioner's Guide for a better understanding of this relationship.
Types of Court Records and Responsibility for Maintenance
The clerk of the court is required to comply with the records standards in MCR 8.119 and as otherwise prescribed by the Michigan Supreme Court and must keep records in the form and style that the trial court prescribes, as well as in accordance with Michigan Supreme Court records standards and local court plans. Reference to the “clerk” in the Michigan Court Rules also applies to the register in probate court proceedings. (MCR 5.001[B])
Public Access to Records
Generally, unless access to a file is restricted by statute, court rule or an order pursuant to MCR 8.119(F), any person may inspect pleadings and other papers in a court clerk's office and may obtain copies as provided by MCR 8.119(E)(2) and (3).
Every court must adopt an administrative order pursuant to MCR 8.112(B) to make reasonable regulations necessary to protect its public records and prevent excessive and unreasonable interference with the discharge of its functions, to specify the reasonable cost of reproduction of records provided by MCR 8.119(E)(2), and to specify the process for determining costs pursuant to MCR 8.119(E)(3). Model local administrative orders have been produced by the State Court Administrative Order.
The court's response to inquiries regarding nonpublic records is outlined in the following resources:
- Michigan Trial Court Case File Management Standards - Component 19, Providing Public Access to Records
- Chart of Nonpublic and Limited Access Court Records
- Memorandum regarding confidential nature of exhibits admitted into evidence in juvenile proceedings during a trial or hearing. See details.
For more details on policy and procedural information on public access to records, see Section 8-03 of the Michigan Court Administration Reference Guide.
Record Retention and Disposal
Records may not be disposed of, mutilated, or destroyed except as allowed by statute or court rule. The General Records Retention and Disposal Schedule #16 – Michigan Trial Courts has been approved by the State Administrative Board to provide courts with the minimum record retention periods. (MCL 399.5, MCL 600.2137, MCL 691.1101, MCL 600.8344, MCL 720.551, MCR 3.925)
Standards and guidelines for reproduction of records through microfilming and imaging technology are available from this site, and resources for microfilming, records storage, record disposal, and archives are available through Records Management Services of the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget.
Required Local Administrative Orders
Access to Friend of the Court Records
A court, by administrative order pursuant to MCR 8.112(B), may make reasonable regulations necessary to protect friend of the court records and to prevent excessive and unreasonable interference with the discharge of friend of the court functions. [MCR 3.218] Model provided.
Access to Juror Personal History Questionnaire
The State Court Administrator has adopted a juror personal history questionnaire. Upon completion by a prospective juror, the questionnaire is filed with the court clerk or the jury board. The only persons allowed to examine the questionnaire are the judges of the court, the court clerk and deputy clerks, parties to the actions in which the juror is called to serve and their attorneys, and persons authorized access by court rule or by court order. [MCR 2.510(A), (C)]
The State Court Administrator has developed model procedures for providing attorneys and parties reasonable access to juror questionnaires. Each court has selected and implemented one of these procedures by local administrative order adopted pursuant to MCR 8.112(B). If the State Court Administrator determined that, given the circumstances existing in an individual court, the procedure selected did not provide reasonable access, the State Court Administrator may have directed the court to implement one of the other model procedures. [MCR 2.510(C)(2)] See Jury Management for the models.
Failure to Submit a Current Version of a Uniform Support Order
MCR 3.211(D) requires that any order regarding child support or spousal support, or both, must be prepared on the most current version of the Uniform Support Order (USO) developed by the State Court Administrative Office and approved by the Michigan Supreme Court. If someone submits a support order without a USO or on an out-of-date form, the court should refuse it and require one that complies with MCR 3.211(D). The purpose of this local administrative order is to establish a procedure for the court to use when an out-of-date USO form is submitted for entry, or when a USO is not submitted with an order or judgment. Model provided.
Facsimile Equipment in Mental Health Proceedings
Probate courts can be authorized to use facsimile communication equipment to transmit petitions, physician's certificates and other supporting documents from state regional psychiatric hospitals or private hospitals for filing in the courts under Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Order. Participation is subject to the discretion of the chief judge of the probate court and with approval of the State Court Administrator. The State Court Administrative Office assists in implementing use of facsimile equipment in mental health proceedings for courts electing to participate.
An administrative order submitted for authorization to use facsimile communication equipment must comply with Mich Sup Ct AO 1992-3.
Inspection, Reproduction, and Creation of New Records
Unless access to a file, a document, or information contained in a file or document is restricted by statute, court rule, or an order entered according to MCR 8.119(F), any person may inspect pleadings and other papers in the clerk's office and may obtain copies as provided in MCR 8.119(E)(2) and (E)(3). A court, by administrative order, may make reasonable regulations necessary to protect its public records and prevent excessive and unreasonable interference with the discharge of its functions.
In addition, the chief judge may, by administrative order, direct the clerk of the court to provide litigants and attorneys with copies of forms approved by the State Court Administrator. The administrative order may allow the clerk to provide the forms at the cost of reproduction to the clerk. [MCR 8.110(C)(7)] Model provided.