San Luis Obispo Superior Court has stopped immediate window service for people seeking mass amounts of information for criminal background checks.
Citing budget and time constraints on staff, the court issued a notice that took effect Friday stating that anyone with lists of people for whom they seek information must submit a request in writing, either at the counter or by mail.
The court will process the requests on a first-come, first-served basis and notify people when the requested information is ready to be picked up.
Background checkers — who typically sell the information they collect to companies that screen job applicants — strongly opposed the court’s decision to shut down a public computer terminal in March that contained criminal record information, saying that hindered their work.
But court officials said they removed the terminal because of privacy concerns with an outdated system that was revealing privileged information, and concerns with how that information might be used for sale.
The decision to close the terminal led background contractors to seek the data from clerks at service windows where clerks reviewed and redacted certain information released to background checkers.
Limited to five names per day, the background checkers started hiring people to stand in line and gather data.
Research that takes more than 10 minutes now will carry a charge of $15, and copies from court files or dockets will cost 50 cents per page.
The court is looking into a long-term solution involving a case-management computer system that would provide remote access to permitted criminal information. But such a system wouldn’t come to fruition for some time, officials said.