Proposed New Court Rules - Comments Requested

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Several proposed procedural rule changes significant to legal aid practitioners were announced in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on August 12, 2017. The changes relate to the handling of confidential information pursuant to the new Public Access Policy: Case Records of the Appellate and Trial Courts adopted by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on January 6, 2017. A summary of the proposed changes are below.

Domestic Relations Procedural Rules

The Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee is planning to propose to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania numerous amendments to the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure related to confidential information and confidential documents. The proposed rules provide that all domestic relations filings must comply with Public Access Policy: Case Records of the Appellate and Trial Courts adopted by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on January 6, 2017. The Policy has specific requirements for both Confidential Documents and other documents containing Confidential Information

Notwithstanding that the domestic relations procedural rules are a subset of the Rules of Civil Procedure, the Committee determined a separate standalone rule was necessary for the domestic rules as many pro se parties to domestic relations litigation rarely consult the general rules of civil procedure. 

The proposal was published for comments, suggestions or objections in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on August 12, 2017. All communications in reference to the proposal should be received by September 12, 2017.

Minor Court Rules

The Minor Court Rules Committee is planning to propose to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania the amendment of Pa.R.C.P.M.D.J. No. 206, governing the petition to proceed in forma pauperis. The Committee is proposing to eliminate the requirement that the petitioner provide the names of children for whom he or she provides support, and instead provide just the ages of such children.

Although the Public Access Policy: Case Records of the Appellate and Trial Courts adopted by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on January 6, 2017 does not apply to the records filed with and maintained by the magisterial district courts, the Committee recognized the important policy considerations set forth therein, particularly as the Policy relates to the confidentiality of minors' names and dates of birth and was unable to find a compelling reason for requiring the disclosure of children's names on the petition.

The proposal was published for comments, suggestions or objections in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on August 12, 2017. All communications in reference to the proposal should be received by September 12, 2017.