Rule 8.119 Court Records and Reports; Duties of Clerks

(A) Applicability. This rule applies to all records in every trial court. For purposes of this rule, records are as defined in MCR 1.109, MCR 3.218, MCR 3.903, and MCR 8.119(D)-(G).

(B) Records Standards. The clerk of the court shall comply with the records standards in this rule, MCR 1.109, and as prescribed by the Michigan Supreme Court.

(C) Filing of Documents and Other Materials. The clerk of the court shall endorse on the first page of every document the date on which it is filed. Documents and other materials filed with the court as defined in MCR 2.107(G) must comply with Michigan Court Rules and the Michigan Trial Court Case File Management Standards. The clerk of the court may only reject documents that do not meet the following minimum filing requirements:

(1)   standards prescribed by MCR 1.109,

(2)   legibility and language as prescribed by MCR 2.113(B) and MCR 5.113,

(3)   captioning prescribed by MCR 2.113(C)(1) and MCR 5.113,

(4)   signature prescribed by MCR 2.114(C) and MCR 5.114, and

(5)   the filing fee is not paid at the time of filing, unless waived or suspended by court order.

(D) Records Kept by the Clerk of the Court. The clerk of the court shall maintain the following case records in accordance with the Michigan Trial Court Case File Management Standards, Michigan Trial Court Record Retention and Disposal Standards and Guidelines, and approved records retention and disposal schedules. Documents and other materials made confidential by court rule, statute, or order of the court pursuant to subrule (I) must be designated as confidential and maintained to allow only authorized access. In the event of transfer or appeal of a case, every rule, statute, or order of the court pursuant to subrule (I) that makes a document or other materials in that case confidential applies uniformly to every court in Michigan, irrespective of the court in which the document or other materials were originally filed.

(1) Case History and Case Files. The clerk shall maintain records of each case consisting of case history (known as a register of actions) and, except for civil infractions, a case file in such form and style as may be prescribed by the State Court Administrative Office. Each case shall be assigned a case number on receipt of a complaint, petition, or other initiating document. The case number shall comply with MCR 2.113(C)(1)(c) or MCR 5.113(A)(1)(b)(ii) as applicable. In addition to the case number, a separate petition number shall be assigned to each petition filed under Chapter XIIA of the Probate Code, MCL 712A.1 et seq., as required under MCR 5.113(A)(1)(b)(ii). The case number (and petition number if applicable) shall be recorded in the court’s automated case management system and on the case file. The records shall include the following characteristics:

(a) Case History. The clerk shall create and maintain a case history of each case, known as a register of actions, in the court’s automated case management system. The automated case management system shall be capable of chronologically displaying the case history for each case and shall also be capable of searching a case by number or party name (previously known as numerical and alphabetical indices) and displaying the case number, date of filing, names of parties, and names of any attorneys of record. The case history shall contain both pre- and post-judgment information and shall, at a minimum, consist of the data elements prescribed in the Michigan Trial Court Case File Management Standards.

Each entry shall be brief, but shall show the nature of each item filed, each order or judgment of the court, and the returns showing execution. Each entry shall be dated with not only the date of filing, but with the date of entry and shall indicate the person recording the action.

(b) Case File. The clerk of the court shall maintain a file of each action, bearing the case number assigned to it, for all pleadings, process, written opinions and findings, orders, and judgments filed in the action, and any other materials prescribed by court rule, statute, or court order to be filed with the clerk of the court. If case file records are maintained separately from the case files, the clerk shall maintain them as prescribed by the Michigan Trial Court Case File Management Standards.

(2) Calendars. The clerk may maintain calendars of actions. A calendar is a schedule of cases ready for court action that identifies times and places of activity.

(3) Abolished Records.

(a) Journals. Except for recording marriages, journals shall not be maintained.

(b) Dockets. A register of actions replaces a docket. Wherever these rules or applicable statutes require entries on a docket, those entries shall be entered in the court’s automated case management system.

(E) Other Case Records. The clerk or other persons designated by the chief judge of the court shall maintain in the manner prescribed by these rules, other materials filed with or handled by the court for purposes of case processing, including but not limited to wills filed for safekeeping, case evaluations, exhibit logs, presentence reports, probation files, problem-solving court treatment files, financial statements for collections, and friend of the court records.

(F)   Court Recordings, Log Notes, Jury Seating Charts, and Media. Court recordings, log notes, jury seating charts, and all other records such as tapes, backup tapes, discs, and any other medium used or created in the making of a record of proceedings and kept pursuant to MCR 8.108 are court records and are subject to access in accordance with subrule (H)(2)(b).

(G)   Other Court Records. All court records not included in subrules (D), (E), and (F) are considered administrative and fiscal records or nonrecord materials and are not subject to public access under subrule (H). These records are defined in the approved records retention and disposal schedule for trial courts.

(H)   Access to Records. Except as otherwise provided in subrule (F), only case records as defined in subrule (D) are public records, subject to access in accordance with these rules. The clerk may not permit any case record to be taken from the court without the order of the court. A court may provide access to the public case history information through a publicly accessible website, and business court opinions may be made available as part of an indexed list as required under MCL 600.8039; however, all other public information in its case files may be provided through electronic means only upon request. The court may provide access to any case record that is not available in paper or digital image, as defined by MCR 1.109(B), if it can reasonably accommodate the request.   Any materials filed with the court pursuant to MCR 1.109(C)(2), in a medium for which the court does not have the means to readily access and reproduce those materials, may be made available for public inspection using court equipment only. The court is not required to provide the means to access or reproduce the contents of those materials if the means is not already available.

 (1) Unless access to a case record or information contained in a record as defined in subrule (D) is restricted by statute, court rule, or an order entered pursuant to subrule (I), any person may inspect that record and may obtain copies as provided in subrule (J). In accordance with subrule (J), the court may collect a fee for the cost of this service, including the cost of providing the new record in a particular medium.

(2) Every court shall adopt an administrative order pursuant to MCR 8.112(B) to

(a) make reasonable regulations necessary to protect its public records and prevent excessive and unreasonable interference with the discharge of its functions;

(b) establish a policy for whether to provide access for records defined in subrule (F) and if access is to be provided, outline the procedure for accessing those records;

(c) specify the reasonable cost of reproduction of records provided under subrule (J); and

(d) specify the process for determining costs under subrule (J).

(I) Sealed Records.

(1) Except as otherwise provided by statute or court rule, a court may not enter an order that seals courts records, in whole or in part, in any action or proceeding, unless

(a) a party has filed a written motion that identifies the specific interest to be protected,

(b) the court has made a finding of good cause, in writing or on the record, which specifies the grounds for the order, and

(c) there is no less restrictive means to adequately and effectively protect the specific interest asserted.

(2) In determining whether good cause has been shown, the court must consider,

(a) the interests of the parties, including, where there is an allegation of domestic violence, the safety of the alleged or potential victim of the domestic violence, and

(b) the interest of the public.

(3) The court must provide any interested person the opportunity to be heard concerning the sealing of the records.

(4) For purposes of this rule, “court includes all documents and records of any nature that are filed with or maintained by the clerk in connection with the action. Nothing in this rule is intended to limit the court’s authority to issue protective orders pursuant to MCR 2.302(C). Materials that are subject to a motion to seal a record in whole or in part shall be held under seal pending the court’s disposition of the motion.

(5) A court may not seal a court order or opinion, including an order or opinion that disposes of a motion to seal the record.

(6) Any person may file a motion to set aside an order that disposes of a motion to seal the record, or an objection to entry of a proposed order. MCR 2.119 governs the proceedings on such a motion or objection. If the court denies a motion to set aside the order or enters the order after objection is filed, the moving or objecting person may file an application for leave to appeal in the same manner as a party to the action. See MCR 8.116(D).

(7) Whenever the court grants a motion to seal a court record, in whole or in part, the court must forward a copy of the order to the Clerk of the Supreme Court and to the State Court Administrative Office.

(J) Access and Reproduction Fees.

(1)   A court may not charge an access or reproduction fee for a case record that the court is required by law or court rule to provide without charge to a person or other entity, irrespective of the medium in which the case record is retained, the manner in which access to the case record is provided, and the technology used to create, store, retrieve, reproduce, and maintain the case record.

(2)   The court may provide access to its public case records in any medium authorized by the records reproduction act, 1992 PA 116; MCL 24.401 to 24.403. If a court maintains its public records in electronic format only,

(a)   the court may not charge a fee to access those case records when access is made on-site through a public terminal or when a verbal request for public information is made on-site to the clerk.

(b)   the court or a contracted entity may charge a fee, in accordance with Supreme Court order, to access those case records when the access is made off-site through a document management, imaging, or other electronic records management system.

(3)   Reproduction of a case record means the act of producing a copy of that record through any medium authorized by the records reproduction act, 1992 PA 116; MCL 24.401 to 24.403.

(a)   A court may charge only for the actual cost of labor and supplies and the actual use of the system, including printing from a public terminal, to reproduce a case record and not the cost associated with the purchase and maintenance of any system or technology used to store, retrieve, and reproduce a case record.

(b)   If a person wishes to obtain copies of documents in a file, the clerk shall provide copies upon receipt of the actual cost of reproduction.

(c)   Except as otherwise directed by statute or court rule, a standard fee may be established, pursuant to (H)(2), for providing copies of documents on file.

(4)   A court is not required to create a new record out of its existing records. A new record means the compilation of information into a format that does not currently exist or that cannot be generated electronically using predefined formats available through a court’s case management system. Providing access to documents or furnishing copies of documents in an existing file does not constitute creation of a new record, even when the output appears in a format different than the format of the original record or document because the output is the result of predefined formats.

(a)   A court may create a new record or compilation of records pertaining to case files or case-related information on request, provided that the record created or compiled does not disclose information that would otherwise be confidential or restricted by statute, court rule, or an order entered pursuant to subrule (I).

(b)   A court may charge only for the actual cost of labor and supplies and the actual use of the system to develop, generate, and validate the accuracy of a new record and not the cost associated with the purchase and maintenance of any system or technology used to store, retrieve, and reproduce the information or documents for creating a new record.

(c)   If a court creates a new record, the clerk shall provide access to the new record upon receipt of the actual cost of creating the record.

(K)   Retention Periods and Disposal of Court Records.

For purposes of retention, the records of the trial courts include: (1) administrative and fiscal records, (2) case file and other case records, (3) court recordings, log notes, jury seating charts, and recording media, and (4) nonrecord material. The records of the trial courts shall be retained in the medium prescribed by MCR 1.109. The records of a trial court may not be disposed of except as authorized by the records retention and disposal schedule and upon order by the chief judge of that court. Before disposing of records subject to the order, the court shall first transfer to the Archives of Michigan any records specified as such in the Michigan trial courts approved records retention and disposal schedule. An order disposing of court records shall comply with the retention periods established by the State Court Administrative Office and approved by the state court administrator, Attorney General, State Administrative Board, Archives of Michigan, and Records Management Services of the Department of Management and Budget, in accordance with MCL 399.5.

(L) Reporting Duties.

(1) The clerk of every court shall submit reports and records as required by statute and court rule.

(2) The clerk of every court shall submit reports or provide records as required by the State Court Administrative Office, without costs.