California Bill Would Permit Court Record Searches for DOB and Driver’s License Number

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California Bill Would Permit Court Record Searches for DOB and Driver’s License Number

Introduction

In February of 2022, California State Senator Steven Bradford (D-35th District) introduced Senate Bill 1262 (SB 1262) to the California legislature. This bill would require publicly accessible electronic indexes of defendants in criminal cases to permit searches and filtering of results based on a defendant’s date of birth (DOB) and driver’s license number.

According to SB 1262, which would amend Section 69842 of the Government Code, current law in California requires a clerk of the superior court to keep an index of any action or proceeding filed in the court. Current California law also requires a separate index for plaintiffs and defendants in civil actions and for defendants in criminal actions.

Consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) that conduct background checks on individuals for employment usually search court records for a DOB or driver’s license number along with the individual’s name so the CRA can make sure they are examining the correct records to comply with accuracy requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Ruling Prohibits Display of DOBs and Driver’s License Numbers

In May of 2021, a California Court of Appeals ruled in All of Us or None v. Hamrick that a DOB and driver’s license number cannot be used to identify an individual when searching a court’s electronic criminal index. The ruling was based on state law – California Rules of Court, Rule 2.507 – and may impact California state courts.

In the case, the plaintiff – a civil rights organization – filed a complaint because Riverside Superior Court allowed access to court records of a criminal defendant by entering a person’s date of birth on its website. A trial court found the website did not violate the Rules of Court but the California Court of Appeal reversed the finding.

The opinion stated: “After considering the text, history, and purpose of Rule 2.507 [(Electronic access to court calendars, indexes, and registers of actions)], we agree that the rule prohibits the Riverside Superior Court from allowing searches of its electronic criminal index by use of an individual’s date of birth or driver’s license number.”

PBSA and CDIA Respond to Ruling

In response to the ruling, the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), a non-profit organization representing the background screening industry, and the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA), the voice of the consumer reporting industry, submitted an amicus letter to the California Supreme Court in July of 2021.

The letter stated that “the Court of Appeal’s ruling would precipitate an utter disaster in nearly every sector of the California economy. If this Court does not reverse the opinion, criminal background checks – which make most employment in this State possible – will be severely delayed, and in many instances they will no longer be possible at all.”

The letter also explained that the Court of Appeal’s opinion incorrectly interpreted Rule 2.507(c) because “nothing in the rule’s text bars searches that employ these identifiers as filters. The Court of Appeal misread the rule by collapsing the crucial distinction between displaying and searching, which has resulted in a blanket ban on search fields for date of birth.”

The PBSA and CDIA insisted that background checks will be difficult, if next to impossible, without DOBs or driver’s license numbers. “Practically speaking, it will no longer be possible to consult criminal records in California for purposes of conducting routine background checks for many or most employment, tenant, and volunteer candidates.”

About ClearStar

ClearStar – a Hanover Investors portfolio company – is a leading provider of Human Capital Integrity℠ technology-based services specializing in background, credit, and medical screening. To learn more about ClearStar, please visit www.clearstar.net. Follow ClearStar on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

 

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    Thomas Ahearn - News Blog Editor and Public Relations Specialist

    Thomas Ahearn is our News Blog Editor and Public Relations Specialist. Our News Blog provides information about the background check industry to employers, HR professionals, recruiters, and consumers. ClearStar's News covers a variety of topics including Ban the Box, credit reports, criminal records, data breaches, drug testing, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), E-Verify, Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), HR technology, identity theft and fraud, jobs reports, lawsuits involving screening, Millennial workforce, privacy issues, social media background checks, and workplace violence.

    At ClearStar, we are committed to your success. An important part of your employment screening program involves compliance with various laws and regulations, which is why we are providing information regarding screening requirements in certain countries, region, etc. While we are happy to provide you with this information, it is your responsibility to comply with applicable laws and to understand how such information pertains to your employment screening program. The foregoing information is not offered as legal advice but is instead offered for informational purposes. ClearStar is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice and this communication does not form an attorney client relationship. The foregoing information is therefore not intended as a substitute for the legal advice of a lawyer knowledgeable of the user’s individual circumstances or to provide legal advice. ClearStar makes no assurances regarding the accuracy, completeness, or utility of the information contained in this publication. Legislative, regulatory and case law developments regularly impact on general research and this area is evolving rapidly. ClearStar expressly disclaim any warranties or responsibility or damages associated with or arising out of the information provided herein.

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