Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. section 107(a), with limited exceptions, bankruptcy files are public records and open to examination by any entity at reasonable times without charge. Under the Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) Program, the full text of documents that are either filed electronically or filed in paper form and scanned into the ECF database, including documents in adversary proceedings and court orders, may be viewed via the Internet by any party holding a PACER login and password.
The full text of all documents filed after January 7, 2002, in both adversary proceedings and bankruptcy cases, are available via the Internet. As provided in 11 U.S.C. section 107(b) and Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9018, the Court will consider any motion for protective order or motion to seal documents on its individual merits.
Attorneys and pro se filers are responsible for ensuring that names and birth dates of minor children, account numbers, and social security information is not included. Clerks are not responsible for redacting or identifying their presence on scanned documents or other electronic submissions through the CM/ECF system.
When reviewing your papers (including any attachments and/or exhibits) for filing, be sure the pleadings don't include any personal identifiers.
When you file a piece of paper with the Bankruptcy Court, the court will scan that paper to make it electronically available to anyone with access to a computer and the ability to view bankruptcy documents on-line. Make sure that you remove or "black out" any personal identifiers, so that all your personal information can't be viewed either in-paper or by computer.
Personal Identifiers include:
- Social Security Numbers
- Financial Account Numbers
- Dates of birth
- Names of minor children
- Home addresses (in criminal cases only)
This process of blacking-out personal identifiers is known as redaction. Guidelines for redacting or blacking-out Personal Identifiers are as follows:
Social Security Numbers: only the last four digits should be visible
123-45-6789 should be redacted to xxx-xx-6789
Financial account numbers: only the last four digits should be visible
12 3456789 10 11 should be redacted to xx xxxxxxx10 11
Dates of birth: only the year of the date of birth should be visible
1/23/45 should be redacted to x/xx/45
Names of minor children: only the initials should be visible
John Doe should be redacted to J. D.
Home addresses (in criminal cases only): only the city and state should be visible
1234 Main Street, Madison, Wisconsin should be redacted to Madison, Wisconsin
Note: The Advisory Committee Note accompanying Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.2 states, "The clerk is not required to review documents filed with the court for compliance with this rule. The responsibility to redact filings rests with counsel and the party or non-party making the filing.