Private Investigators In Virginia

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Virginia Supreme Court Restricts Access To Court Records

Posted by Bill on March 25, 2008

justice.jpg  Recently (March 18, 2008), the Virginia Judicial Council sent a report to the Virginia Supreme Court on a proposed, formal set of Rules of Evidence and on proposed changes to Part Nine to the Supreme Court Rules that would regulate access to public court records. 

Virginia and Massachusetts are the only two states that do not have a formal evidence code.  According to the Virginia Lawyers Weekly, VLW Blog, Click Here, the new evidence code would be similar to the Federal Rules of Evidence, but would adopt most rule language from Virginia case law.  Read the proposed rules Click Here.

Proposed changes to Part Nine of the Supreme Court Rules address concerns of personal and private information being accessible in court records.  The proposed rule provides for sealing of court records, procedures to unseal records and limiting personal information in filings with the court.  Read the proposed changes Click Here

We initially wrote about this in a previous post last year Click Here.   While the Virginia Supreme Court did not act upon the first set of proposed rule changes for access to court records, the Court is considering the Judicial Council’s most recent set of proposed rules for access to public court records.  Chief Justice Leroy Rountree Hassell Sr. told the council that he expects the court to take some time before acting on the proposed rules.  Hopefully, the Supreme Court will consider public comments on the proposed rules.  We shall see.

Access to public court records is important to the legal and professional investigation industry.  Private investigators work for the public, businesses, law firms and attorneys.  In all cases, whether involving fraud, litigation, criminal trials or business due diligence, private investigators must be able to identify, verify and locate individuals referenced in public records.  Without the ability to gather this information, many investigations will fail or the costs will increase so that the public and others cannot afford to prepare their case or conduct due diligence or complete fraud investigations. 

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

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3 Responses to “Virginia Supreme Court Restricts Access To Court Records”

  1. […] Virginia Supreme Court Regulating Access To Court Records […]

  2. Larry A. Peters said

    It is essential that we in the investigative community try to make those in power the necessity of the identifyers such as date of birth and social security number. We are entitled as Criminal Defense Investigators to ever thing the Police have in their arsenal to prosecute, we have the right to the same information to defend the accused. Anything short of that is back doors and smoked filled rooms to make decisions. Cover ups in POlice Dept. is not uncommon. They unfortunately turn the blue line into gray when they hide exculpatory evidence in a case. This is 2008 and yet it appears we are constantly going backward in our government. I wish somebody would run who has an open mind and use it.

  3. Bill said

    Excellent points, Larry. In today’s post, we note that the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed its proposed court records restriction rule. The people in Oklahoma immediately raised the restriction issue and the court backed down.

    PIAVA recommends that all Virginians raise the issue with the Virginia Supremen Court and with our representatives in the General Assembly. Some identifying information should be available in court records so that businesses, people and criminal/civil litigants have access to public information for legitimate purposes.

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