Requesting Non-deliberative, Non-adjudicative Court Records from the Riverside Superior Court and the San Bernardino Superior Court
April 2, 2011 Leave a comment
Someone searched the following search strings and found my blog: “Collection division San Bernardino County, San Bernardino County Courts Records Inquiry.” I have some experience with San Bernardino County Central Collections because court fines (always) and restitution (more recently) go through Central Collections. When I was a city prosecutor (as a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino for almost five years, and as the for the City of Redlands for four and a half years) prosecuting misdemeanor and infraction violations of the Redlands Municipal Code and the San Bernardino Municipal Code, defendants’ copy of the plea bargain were stamped with the Central Collections address on Fifth Street. The County of San Bernardino splits the base fine (the amount before penalties and assessments (“P&As”) with cities for violations of municipal codes. That is part of the reason why some cities have moved to administrative citations for code enforcement cases.
You can find the County of San Bernardino Central Collections at www.countybillpay.com. They are physically located at 157 West Fifth Street in downtown San Bernardino. Their phone number is (909) 387-8303. The domain name, http://www.countybillpay.com is registered to the San Bernardino County Treasurer Tax Collector. Essentially, they are the County of San Bernardino’s in-house debt collector.
While their website is bereft of any information about Central Collections, according to Larry Walker’s Interoffice Memorandum entitled “Response to 1999-2000 San Bernardino County Grand Jury Report“, Central Collections was established by merging Probation Collections and San Bernardino County Medical Center’s Division of Collections in Fiscal Year 1996. Larry Walker, Grand Jury Response, September 1, 2000, Page 6. Thus, it literally became the County of San Bernardino’s “Central Collections.”
These search strings probably came about because of the first part of my planned multi-part California Public Records Act series. Let me briefly look into the future of this series regarding the Courts. The California Public Records Act covers the records of local agencies. What is a local agency, according to the California Public Records Act? “”Local agency” includes a county; city, whether general law or chartered; city and county; school district; municipal corporation; district; political subdivision; or any board, commission or agency thereof; other local public agency; or entities that are legislative bodies of a local agency pursuant to subdivisions (c) and (d) of [Government Code] Section 54952.” Government Code section 6252(a). So, not the judicial branch, and not the California Legislature.
However, that does not mean that the records aren’t public. There are a series of cases that state that court records, that is records of cases, are for the most part public. More recently, the Judicial Council has adopted Rule 10.500, “Public access to judicial administrative records.” These aren’t the records of particular cases, these are the records of how the courts are run. This Rule, effective January 1, 2010, is to ensure access to “nondeliberative and nonadjudicative court records, budget and management information.” California Rules of Court Rule 10.500(a)(1). The Rule refers to the California Public Records Act:
“Unless otherwise indicated, the terms used in this rule have the same meaning as under the Legislative Open Records Act (Gov. Code, § 9070 et seq.) and the California Public Records Act ( Gov. Code, § 6250 et seq.) and must be interpreted consistently with the interpretation applied to the terms under those acts” Id., Rule 10.500(d)(1). The Rule is very close to the California Public Records Act, but there are some differences because it is specific to courts.
Copyright 2011 Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law
The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.