7A-109. Record-keeping procedures.

(a) Each clerk shall maintain such records, files, dockets and indexes as are prescribed by rules of the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts. Except as prohibited by law, these records shall be open to the inspection of the public during regular office hours, and shall include civil actions, special proceedings, estates, criminal actions, juvenile actions, minutes of the court, judgments, liens, lis pendens, and all other records required by law to be maintained. The rules prescribed by the Director shall be designed to accomplish the following purposes:

(1) To provide an accurate record of every determinative legal action, proceeding, or event which may affect the person or property of any individual, firm, corporation, or association;

(2) To provide a record during the pendency of a case that allows for the efficient handling of the matter by the court from its initiation to conclusion and also affords information as to the progress of the case;

(3) To provide security against the loss or destruction of original documents during their useful life and a permanent record for historical uses;

(4) To provide a system of indexing that will afford adequate access to all records maintained by the clerk;

(5) To provide, to the extent possible, for the maintenance of records affecting the same action or proceeding in one rather than several units; and

(6) To provide a reservoir of information useful to those interested in measuring the effectiveness of the laws and the efficiency of the courts in administering them.

(a1) The minutes maintained by the clerk pursuant to this subsection shall record the date and time of each convening of district and superior court, as well as the date and time of each recess or adjournment of district and superior court with no further business before the court.

(b) The rules shall provide for indexing according to the minimum criteria set out below:

(1) Civil actions. - the names of all parties;

(2) Special proceedings. - the names of all parties;

(3) Administration of estates. - the name of the estate and in the case of testacy the name of each devisee;

(4) Criminal actions. - the names of all defendants;

(5) Juvenile actions. - the names of all juveniles;

(6) Judgments, liens, lis pendens, etc. - the names of all parties against whom a lien has been created by the docketing of a judgment, notice of lien, transcript, certificate, or similar document and the names of all parties in those cases in which a notice of lis pendens has been filed with the clerk and abstracted on the judgment docket.

(c) The rules shall require that all documents received for docketing shall be immediately indexed either on a permanent or temporary index. The rules may prescribe any technological process deemed appropriate for the economical and efficient indexing, storage and retrieval of information.

(d) In order to facilitate public access to the electronic data processing records or any compilation of electronic court records or data of the clerks of superior court, except where public access is prohibited by law, the Director may enter into one or more nonexclusive contracts under reasonable cost recovery terms with third parties to provide remote electronic access to the electronic data processing records or any compilation of electronic court records or data of the clerks of superior court by the public. Neither the Director nor the Administrative Office of the Courts is the custodian of the records of the clerks of superior court or of the electronic data processing records or any compilation of electronic court records or data of the clerks of superior court. Costs recovered pursuant to this subsection shall be remitted to the State Treasurer to be held in the Court Information Technology Fund established in G.S. 7A-343.2.

(e) If any contracts entered into under subsection (d) of this section are in effect during any calendar year, the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts shall submit to the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee on Justice and Public Safety and the Senate Appropriations Committee on Justice and Public Safety not later than February 1 of the following year a report on all those contracts. (Code, ss. 83, 95, 96, 97, 112, 1789; 1887, c. 178, s. 2; 1889, c. 181, s. 4; 1893, c. 52; 1899, c. 1, s. 17; cc. 82, 110; 1901, c. 2, s. 9; c. 89, s. 13; c. 550, s. 3; 1903, c. 51; c. 359, s. 6; 1905, c. 360, s. 2; Rev., s. 915; 1919, c. 78, s. 7; c. 152; c. 197, s. 4; c. 314; C.S., s. 952; 1937, c. 93; 1953, c. 259; c. 973, s. 3; 1959, c. 1073, s. 3; c. 1163, s. 3; 1961, c. 341, ss. 3, 4; c. 960; 1965, c. 489; 1967, c. 691, s. 39; c. 823, s. 2; 1971, c. 192; c. 363, s. 6; 1997-199, ss. 1, 2; 1999-237, s. 17.15(c); 2011-145, s. 15.6(b); 2012-142, s. 16.5(g); 2013-360, s. 18B.8(a); 2015-241, s. 18A.24; 2017-57, s. 18B.3(a).)