Rules of Appellate Procedure Appellate Procedure Rule 21: Protection of personal identifying information
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Publicly accessible documents filed with the court shall conform to Supreme Judicial Court Rule 1:24, Protection of Personal Identifying Information in Publicly Accessible Court Documents.
Rule 21 was completely revised in 2019. Prior Rule 21 allowed the court to hold a prehearing conference “to consider the simplification of the issues and such other matters as may aid in the disposition of the proceeding by the court.” This rule was stricken entirely as such conferences are not held. Even without such a rule, an appellate court or a single justice thereof still has the inherent authority to order such a conference.
Rule 21 was revised to encompass requirements related to the redaction of publicly available documents. The amendment serves to alert attorneys, parties, and interested members of the public to the requirements of S.J.C. Rule 1:24, Protection of Personal Identifying Information in Publicly Accessible Court Documents. Under S.J.C. Rule 1:24, unless there is an exception, personal identifying information, such as social security numbers, parent’s birth surnames, driver’s license numbers, and financial account numbers, may not be included in documents filed in court unless redacted as set forth in the rule. Identical cross-references to S.J.C. Rule 1:24 were added in 2017 to Mass. R. Civ. P. 5(h) and Mass. R. Crim. P. 32(f).
With regard to the preparation of the 2019 Reporter’s Notes to this Rule, see the first paragraph of the 2019 Reporter’s Notes to Rule 1. For an overview of the 2019 amendments to the Rules and a summary of the global amendments to the Rules, see 2019 Reporter’s Notes to Rule 1, sections I. and II.