Old court records can chase your reputation around for years, particularly if they end up appearing in the search results.
The following websites (among others) contain vast repositories of legal information and court records for litigators to use in their research:
Atlas Public Records (atlaspublicrecords.com)
Find A Case (findacase.com)
Open Public Records (open-public-records.com)
Because these websites are so popular, they are considered by Google and other search engines to be highly authoritative. That means Google tends to display information published on them high up in the search results.
NEED TO REMOVE COURT RECORDS FROM GOOGLE?
The process of removing public court records from the internet primarily consists of two primary steps:
Filing a motion with a court to seal or expunge the relevant court records; and
After a judge grants the motion to seal or expunge the court records, having an attorney contact the website to ask them to take
down the court records.
The ease in which you can seal or expunge a court record
will depend on several factors, such as:
The type of public record (a criminal or civil court case);
The severity of the crime committed;
The public’s need to access the public court record;
How long it has been since the court record was created;
The legal costs in having the public record expunged or sealed.
The United States has a very long history of allowing court proceedings and records to be available for review by the general public. Laws and regulations that allow public records to be published or accessed online have their roots in the:
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and
Public records law of each state.
But there can be exceptions to the above laws and regulations, such as when an individual’s right to privacy outweighs the public’s interest in accessing court information.
Court records found online are usually reposted information on third-party websites. These websites have no relationship with the legal system. Courts and law enforcement agencies will often have court documents available for public review.
However, (excepting federal court proceedings) these official records will rarely show up in a Google or search engine query.
Some of these websites include PacerMonitor, Leagle, and PlainSite. Court-records websites work by first searching public records.
They then publish any court documents found.
Occasionally, these court-record websites will remove out-of-date information on their own when updating their databases. They may also agree to take records down when they receive a letter with a copy of a court order to remove content showing that the court case or official record has been sealed or expunged.
Certain types of documents are not made public. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will not disclose to the public charges of employment discrimination, charge conciliation information, or raw EEO survey data. Other types of employment litigation records that are not available to the general public include:
Complaints filed by federal employees.
Internal documents reflecting the deliberations of agency officials.
Confidential legal documents, such as attorney-client communications
and attorney work-product.
Information provided to the EEOC by confidential sources.
Personal information, such as medical history, social security numbers, and contact information.