(a) Trial court records may be created, maintained, and preserved in any form or forms of communication or representation, including paper, optical, electronic, magnetic, micrographic, or photographic media or other technology pursuant to the rules adopted by the Judicial Council pursuant to subdivision (c).
(b) (1) This section does not apply to court reporters’ transcripts or to specifications for electronic recordings made as the official record of oral proceedings. These records shall be governed by the California Rules of Court.
(2) This section does not apply to original wills and codicils delivered to the clerk of the court under Section 8200 of the Probate Code. Original wills and codicils shall be retained as provided in Section 26810.
(c) The Judicial Council shall adopt rules to establish the standards or guidelines for the creation, maintenance, reproduction, or preservation of court records, including records that must be preserved permanently. The standards or guidelines shall reflect industry standards for each medium used, if those standards exist. The standards or guidelines shall ensure that court records are created and maintained in a manner that ensures accuracy and preserves the integrity of the records throughout their maintenance. They shall also ensure that the records are stored and preserved in a manner that will protect them against loss and ensure preservation for the required period of time. Standards and guidelines for the electronic creation, maintenance, and preservation of court records shall ensure that the public can access and reproduce records with at least the same amount of convenience as paper records previously provided.
(d) Additions, deletions, or changes shall not be made to the content of court records, except as authorized by statute or the California Rules of Court.
(e) Court records shall be indexed for convenient access.
(f) A copy of a court record created, maintained, preserved, or reproduced according to subdivisions (a) and (c) shall be deemed an original court record and may be certified as a true and correct copy of the original record. The clerk of the court may certify a copy of the record by electronic or other technological means, if the means adopted by the court reasonably ensures that the certified copy is a true and correct copy of the original record, or of a specified part of the original record.
(g) Any notice, order, judgment, decree, decision, ruling, opinion, memorandum, warrant, certificate of service, writ, subpoena, or other legal process or similar document issued by a trial court or by a judicial officer of a trial court may be signed, subscribed, or verified using a computer or other technology in accordance with procedures, standards, and guidelines established by the Judicial Council pursuant to this section. Notwithstanding any other law, all notices, orders, judgments, decrees, decisions, rulings, opinions, memoranda, warrants, certificates of service, writs, subpoenas, or other legal process or similar documents that are signed, subscribed, or verified by computer or other technological means pursuant to this subdivision shall have the same validity, and the same legal force and effect, as paper documents signed, subscribed, or verified by a trial court or a judicial officer of the court.
(h) A court record created, maintained, preserved, or reproduced in accordance with subdivisions (a) and (c) shall be stored in a manner and in a place that reasonably ensures its preservation against loss, theft, defacement, or destruction for the prescribed retention period under Section 68152.
(i) A court record that was created, maintained, preserved, or reproduced in accordance with subdivisions (a) and (c) may be disposed of in accordance with the procedure under Section 68153, unless it is either of the following:
(1) A comprehensive historical and sample superior court record preserved for research under the California Rules of Court.
(2) A court record that is required to be preserved permanently.
(j) Instructions for access to data stored on a medium other than paper shall be documented.
(k) Each court shall conduct a periodic review of the media in which the court records are stored to ensure that the storage medium is not obsolete and that current technology is capable of accessing and reproducing the records. The court shall reproduce records before the expiration of their estimated lifespan for the medium in which they are stored according to the standards or guidelines established by the Judicial Council.
(l) Unless access is otherwise restricted by law, court records created, maintained, preserved, or reproduced under subdivisions (a) and (c) shall be made reasonably accessible to all members of the public for viewing and duplication as the paper records would have been accessible. Unless access is otherwise restricted by law, court records maintained in electronic form shall be viewable at the court, regardless of whether they are also accessible remotely. Reasonable provision shall be made for duplicating the records at cost. Cost shall consist of all costs associated with duplicating the records as determined by the court.
(Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 172, Sec. 1. (AB 1443) Effective January 1, 2018.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018