Special Report: Appellate Decision Could Cause Removal of Key Identifiers from California Records

Special Report: Appellate Decision Could Cause Removal of Key Identifiers from California Records

By Jennifer Gladstone

A court ruling could lead to the removal of birthdates and driver’s license numbers from public-facing court indexes across the state of California. While this is somewhat similar to the rule change that came out of the Michigan state legislature, this issue actually started with a lawsuit about marijuana convictions.

In 2016, a civil rights group called “All of Us or None” filed suit against the Riverside County court clerk claiming his office was breaking two rules. First, that the county was retaining cannabis-related offenses that should have been expunged, and secondly, that the clerk was not removing Personally Identifiable Information from records that could be looked up on electronic terminals in the courthouse. 

Those fighting to remove that information claimed that having it freely available negatively affected people who were “trying to move beyond their criminal histories and rebuild their lives.”

The San Diego Superior Court Judge who heard the case decided the county was not violating any laws, so All of Us or None appealed. California’s 4th District Court of Appeals flipped the decision saying the use of birthdays and driver’s license numbers violated state law. 

So now, the Professional Background Screening Association has joined with the Consumer Data Industry Association to lobby the Supreme Court of California to reverse the ruling in order to preserve the integrity of background screens. 

An amicus brief sent to the Court reads, “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.” 

More than a dozen other associations representing California hospitals, hotels, apartments, alarm companies, and even DoorDash, have all asked to be included on the brief because they, too, are worried that they will no longer be able to get accurate background checks.

When a similar issue surfaced in Michigan, a grassroots effort cropped up to try to stop it. Nothing similar has developed in California yet, but as soon as it does, we will let you know how to let your voice be heard

About the Author

Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.

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