Yesterday the Michigan House approved a plan to effectively repeal most statutes related to court records retention in favor of letting the judiciary set the rules. HB 4064 as committee amended deletes almost all statutes related to retention of, access to, and destruction of records and mediums in which a record may be produced. It also removes a provision in law prohibiting probate court records, except otherwise provided by law, to be inspected without charge by all interested persons.
In lieu of all these statutes, the State Court Administrative Office would establish and maintain records management policies and procedures for all courts, including a records retention and disposal schedule, in accordance with Supreme Court rules. The new rules would have to be developed and maintained in laws currently related to the Michigan Historical Commission.
In addition to storage issues, HB 4064 deals with access to court records. Under the bill electronic access to case records, pleadings, practice, and procedure would be set by Supreme Court rule. So called “enhanced access” could be based on “reasonable fee”, defined as “a charge calculated to enable a court to recover, over time, operating expenses directly related to enhanced access.” Moreover, a perhaps critical to the actual development of electronic document management and e-filing systems, “operating expense” would include “the cost of computer hardware and software, system development, employee time, and the actual cost of providing the access.”
HB 4064 now goes to the Senate.