Criminal-court records that were available only from courthouse computers can now be accessed online from any computer.
The indexes and some unsealed records from most criminal cases that happen on or after today will be available for viewing online, said Patricia Noland, clerk of Pima County Superior Court. The court will eventually make older cases available, but Noland isn't sure how far back they will go.
Information from cases that involve a juvenile or sexual assault victims will not be available online. A committee is meeting next month to determine if the cases can be listed online, but documents from the cases with information identifying the victims will be unavailable, Noland said.
Noland said that for years she's worked with the Arizona Supreme Court to determine rules for putting criminal records online.
"One of the things that was very important with criminal records is that there be a disposition so if somebody had been found not guilty or the charges had been dismissed, that had to show on the court record," Noland said. "We did not have that in place when we were going through a conversion to our whole new case-management system. So we've been working on that."
The move to make records more accessible was prompted by the number of calls the clerk's office receives from people looking for information about a case.
"More people want to be able to do things online, and it just helps us better serve people," Noland said.
Online access will help people involved in a case check on the status of the case and make it easier for other people, such as landlords, to do research on a person's criminal history, Noland said.
"Let's say somebody has a criminal case and they want to know where it is or what's been filed or is there something happening on that. Well, they can go on the site and look," Noland said. "They don't have to call us, they can figure it out or they can see that there is one, and if they need other documents they can come down here to the courthouse and get them. They don't have to make the trip down here not knowing."
The Supreme Court is working on implementing an online portal that requires users to register but will give them the ability to view most records in a criminal case, Noland said. There are about 10 types of documents including personal information such as Social Security numbers or information about victims, that won't be available, Noland said.
That site is expected to be ready by the summer and will be fee-based, she said.
Case indexes and some documents in civil and domestic cases are already available online.
In 2011, clerks were bombarded with calls from the media requesting court records related to the case against Jan. 8 mass shooter Jared Lee Loughner, so Noland decided to make that case available online.
The court has continued to make records from high-interest cases, including the Pamela Phillips and Glen Cusford Francis murder cases, available online.
"That was kind of our first start in having people track without calling us or having to come down to the courthouse," Noland said.
The Pima County Superior Court Clerk's home page is at www.agave.cosc.pima.gov
Contact reporter Veronica Cruz at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4224.