California Senate Passes Bill to Protect Background Check Providers’ Access to Court Records

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Background Check

The California State Senate has unanimously passed Senate Bill 1262 (SB 1262), which, if passed by the assembly and enacted into law, will require records of actions and proceedings to be publicly accessible and permit these records to be searchable through the use of personal identifiers such as a driver’s license number, date of birth, or both.

This bill was introduced into the California State Senate by Senator Steven Bradford of the 35th District in response to the considerable delays in background checks caused by a ruling in the case of All of Us or None v. Hamrick by a California Court of Appeals. In the ruling, the court found that California Rules of Court Rule 2.507 prohibited the use of date of birth or driver’s license number to identify particular cases as belonging to an individual when using a court’s electronic index of records.

This decision resulted in immense delays as background check providers could no longer reliably depend upon court records to contain information necessary to guarantee a record belongs to a particular individual. In order to remain compliant with the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and guarantee a suitable degree of accuracy in performing a background check, typically, at a minimum, at least two identifiers must be used, most often a first and last name as one and date of birth as the second.

As courts in the state began to adjust their electronic indexes to remove these identifiers from records, many investigators began to suffer difficulty in finding enough information to connect records reliably. This resulted in slowdowns and, in some cases, an inability to perform a comprehensive investigation.

“The clerk of the superior court shall keep such indexes to ensure ready reference to any action or proceeding filed in the court. There shall be separate indexes of plaintiffs and defendants in civil actions and of defendants in criminal actions. The name of each plaintiff and defendant shall be indexed, and there shall appear opposite each name indexed the number of the action or proceeding and the name or names of the adverse litigant or litigants. Publicly accessible electronic indexes of defendants in criminal cases shall permit searches and filtering of results based on a defendant’s driver’s license number or date of birth, or both.”

If this bill is passed by the state assembly, it will remove the barriers to performing background investigations which it is hoped will greatly increase the speed at which background checks can be performed.

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