The Local Rules of Civil Procedure for the District Court of the Virgin Islands require that litigants exclude or redact "personal data identifiers from all documents filed with the Court, including exhibits[.]" LRCi 5.4(l)(1). The list of personal data identifiers to be redacted includes "financial account numbers." LRCi 5.4(l)(1)(D). The Rule is silent on whether redaction is necessary for information that has already been made public.

I would hazard that there is precisely zero controversy whether most financial information falls under the ambit of Rule 5.4. The filing of unredacted bank statements from an active account would be a fairly obvious violation of the Rule. But there are other types of financial information where the line is not so bright. For example, mortgage documents routinely bear the loan number of the borrower. In order to have full legal effect, a mortgage must be recorded with the Recorder of Deeds. The very act of recording a mortgage document turns it into a public record, which is then available either from the Recorder’s office or website in unredacted form. Given that the mortgage loan number has already been released into the public record , there seems to be little gained by redacting the loan number from a copy of a recorded mortgage that is filed as an exhibit in a foreclosure suit.

Perhaps the Court has made a policy decision that financial information is ripe for misappropriation, and that it is better to be over-inclusive than to risk the ruin of a litigant’s credit history. On the other hand, it is also possible that the Rule was implemented without taking into account the existence of information that, while financial in nature, is still publicly available. In any event, the Rule is categorical in its requirements, and compliance with its terms seems to require the redaction of all financial information, whether in the public sphere or not. At some point, the Court should probably decide whether the Rule’s requirements make sense in cases where nominally private information is already publicly available.