In September 2021, the California Court of Appeal ruled in All of Us or None of Us v. Hamrick that an individual’s date of birth and possibly driver’s license number could not be used as data identifying a criminal record in the public record system. The case pertained to one California county, however many courts around the state have followed suit for fear of being sued. Many clerks have stopped providing assistance to verify full DOBs, as well as driver’s license numbers and social security numbers. This has caused routine background checks to be much more difficult to obtain. In order to accurately match a criminal record with an individual, background agencies must rely on personally identifiable information. Researchers must now physically go to the court house to verify records which has caused major backlogs. In many cases, researchers are allowed as few as five case files per day where they can verify the DOB, etc.
Some may be aware that Michigan began the same process back in 2019 and 2020. When this happened, Reference Services Inc, came up with a workaround process of ordering a Michigan statewide report in place of counties. While we normally would recommend ordering counties over a statewide due to accuracy reasons, we were able to take a more hands-on approach to verify records by other means in order to confidently return the results in a timely manner. After much work by advocates in the background screening industry, Michigan has ruled under ADM File No, 2017-28 that the Michigan State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) “will maintain a list of authorized individuals who may have access to a party’s date of birth contained in a court record for purposes of verifying the identity of that particular person without the need to present a stipulation to the court.” RSI and our researcher have gained the necessary authorizations and regained access to county records. This means Michigan is slowly getting better with county court records turn-around times while working through the backlogs.
Unfortunately, California counties do not report information to the state level, which means we cannot offer a California statewide as we did with Michigan. However, advocates in the background screening industry have proposed Senate Bill 1262 to resolve this issue and allow publicly accessible electronic indexes of defendants to permit searching and filtering of results based on a defendants driver’s license number or date of birth, or both. Until then, please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions that you might have.
Reference Services, Inc is headquartered in Evansville, IN and has remained one of the premier employment background screening companies in the country. Clients representing almost every industry imaginable rely on RSI to provide fast, accurate and legally compliant background checks on their applicants so they can hire a more productive, safer, and reliable workforce. www.referenceservices.com
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