April 16, 2010
Clerk of Courts Clarifies Record Retention Policy
With digital images of many civil and criminal case filings now available on line, Clerk of Courts wants to assure the legal community that her office has record retention policies in place so that records remain available as necessary for case determination, public access and archival purposes.
For Clerk Maryellen O’Shaughnessy, preservation of court records in compliance with the Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio and local rules relating to record retention is a core function of the Clerk’s office service. “As the courts and legal community come to rely more on electronic tools and communication it is crucial that our staff is equipped with the knowledge necessary to refine our policies and practices,” she said. Toward that end, key staff members recently participated in electronic records management training sponsored by the Ohio Electronic Records Committee.
Once a pleading or other document is filed with the Clerk, it is scanned and assigned microfiche coordinates. Quality control is performed to make certain images are clear and legible. The images are then indexed to the electronic docket so as to be easily retrievable. Microfiche cards are created to provide a permanent copy of each image. The paper document is filed in the appropriate case file.
Court records in paper medium are retained for as long as a case is pending and for a minimum of five years. Conversion to both digital and microfiche format permits permanent retention of documents in the alternate media. When necessary, paper copies of file contents can be recreated from digital or microfiche images. These copies are considered equivalent to the original paper version, constitute admissible evidence, and are self-authenticating.
In line with the requirements of the Ohio Public Records Act and the Clerk’s Public Records Policy, copies of the Clerk of Courts Retention Schedule are available in the courthouse at each file room records counter and at each auto title branch. Compliance Officer Ned Kirby, 614/462.6707, oversees the record retention program on behalf of Clerk O’Shaughnessy.