PI Buzz: SSDI, Online Photo Matching, Finding Military Personnel, and More

I missed PI Buzz while it was on hiatus and am glad to see Tamara is back in the blogging saddle, but maybe not on a punishing schedule that keeps her from blogging. Her posts are useful and educational and even if she posted just once a month many of us would be grateful.

PI Buzz

Diamonds, and Twitter, are Forever: Tweet Archive Joins other Internet Archives

Politwoops: “Deleted Doesn’t Mean Inaccessible: Search and Access Deleted Tweets By Politicians,” from the 4/29/13 LJ InfoDocket post by Gary Price.

Internet Archive

(Priceless Meanderings: Diamonds are Forever (Fleming & Bond) and Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend (Loos and Monroe) and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (Lennon and McCarthy) and Tweety Bird (of course!).)

Freedom of Information (FOI) Day, March 15, 2013

Read about FOI Day at the Newseum, to commemorate the (March 16th) birthday of James Madison.

Federal Freedom of Information Act.

How to file a federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request.

How to file an Oregon Freedom of Information Act Request: Oregon Department of Justice and Open-Oregon.

Court of Appeals: Oregon Retains Public Recording Requirement in Nonjudicial Foreclosures (MERS not a Substitute)

Update: See “Oregon Supreme Court will tackle MERS foreclosure issues,” by Brent Hunsberger, The Oregonian, July 19, July 20 (print edition), 2012.

For the decision AND an overview of Oregon’s nonjudicial foreclosure laws:

Rebecca Niday v. GMAC Mortgage, LLC (A147430) (from Clackamas County Circuit Court)

A summary can be found at the OJD Media Release website (Click on Court of Appeals, then July 18, 2012.) Excerpt from the Media Release:

In Oregon, a trustee may foreclose a trust deed by advertisement and sale–also known as nonjudicial foreclosure–only if the beneficiary of the trust deed has publicly recorded “any assignments of the trust deed” in the county mortgage records. Today the Court of Appeals held that using Mortgage Electronic Registry Systems, Inc. (MERS) as the nominal “beneficiary” and its private database for tracking beneficial interests in trust deeds does not satisfy the public recording requirement of Oregon’s nonjudicial foreclosure law….” [Link to full case.]

Link to the full case: Rebecca Niday v. GMAC Mortgage, LLC

Link to other Oregon Court of Appeals cases.

Link to other Oregon Court opinions.

Updated Definition of an Oregon Public Record

The Oregon Legislature passed 2011 HB 2244, re definition of a public record, and it was signed by the Governor on August 2, 2011:
Effective Date:  August 2, 2011.  Chapter: 645 (2011 Laws).
Relating to public records; creating new provisions; amending ORS 192.005 and 192.502; and declaring an emergency….”  (HTML and the PDF version of the enrolled bill.)
Includes an expanded definition of public record and new public records policy requirements.
Link to the Oregon Legislature’s website for more information.

You can also find the Oregon Public Records Manual at the Department of Justice website.

How to Find Out if Someone Has Been Sued, Convicted, or is on a Sex Offender List?

Do you want to do a “background check” on an employer (individual or corporation), a future or current partner, an employee, a “friend,” or a colleague?
FIRST and FOREMOST: Keep your expectations realistic.  If you expect to find all the data you are seeking in one place, one database, one website, or one-anything, you are gravely mistaken.
We just got a copy of “Wanted! U.S. Cirminal Records: Sources & Research Methodology,” by Ron Arons.  (There are other books on researching public records, too.  They will cure you of any illusion that searching public (and private) records is for the faint-hearted.)
SECOND, Check the state’s court records databases and, if you’re researching a business, with the state’s attorney general’s office. You could check those here in Oregon (or other state), but you will also want to check the records in the state where the company is headquartered or incorporated and in other states where it does business.
To check if any lawsuits have been filed in Oregon, you can visit any county circuit courthouse and ask for the public OJIN workstation. Staff will be able to assist you.
The Oregon State Attorney General’s website has contact information.
If you’re searching for lawsuits against a business, you can also check at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website
You will need to check in other states to see if any suits have been filed in states other than Oregon.
IMPORTANT: If you use any online public records databases, read the PI Buzz blog post following up on their Due Diligence one as a start.  If you’re inclined to read more about searching public records, follow the links.
THIRD: If any suits have been filed in federal court, you’ll need to find a library with access to PACER or visit a federal courthouse. There are several in Oregon (e.g. courthouse directory).
FOURTH: As for those Sex Offender databases, in Oregon and for beyond, check the FBI Sex Offender Registry website.
LAST, BUT NOT LEAST: Consider hiring a professional investigator.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for research purposes only.  We do not provide legal advice, nor do we endorse any person, product, or company.
Disclaimer: It is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law (ORS 9.160, 9.166 and 9.21).  They may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights.  They may, however, assist patrons in locating materials or links that would aid in individual research.

How to Search for Criminal Records

This question comes to librarians usually in this form:

I am looking for Criminal Records for someone I want to hire, want to rent to, want to date, etc. Can I search for that information online – and for free?

The answer:
There are no reliable, comprehensive, accurate and free online criminal history records-check resources and in fact, searching criminal records thoroughly requires searching more than one database in more than one jurisdiction, not to mention specialized searching skills.

(Note: Do not confuse a criminal history check with a public records, skip-tracing, or social media search for an individual, though they do all have some common problems, not the least is which means remembering that many people share a name and not every Jon or Jan Doe is the Jon or Jan Doe you are seeking.)
1) Here is a sample research guide, from Wisconsin, on how to research criminal histories and public records — it gives you an idea of what your research strategy might look like.

2) Also, it is a lot more difficult to search for someone else’s criminal history than it is to check your own (unless you have been the victim of identity theft by someone who left a criminal history trail in your name, in which case, the search and the repair are a nightmare).

3) The Virtual Chase posts, Part 1 and Part 2, are still good places to begin if you want to learn about why criminal background checks are not as straightforward as one might think they should be.


1) If you want to know if there was a criminal (or civil) case filed against someone in Oregon, OJIN (Oregon Judicial Information Network) is the official online database of cases filed in Oregon courts. The records do not go back forever and it excludes some data on juvenile records and other protected information. Also, for the most part, it has docket (a list of documents filed in a case) information only about documents filed, not the actual documents. (Note: It does not have arrest records.)

OJIN is available to the public for no charge at courthouses, but few will allow statewide searches, and at some county law libraries. A directory of Oregon county law libraries is at http://www.occll.org/directory.php.

2) Your local law enforcement agency may have some recommendations or you may contact a private investigation company that performs criminal background checks for a fee. (But remember to check the bona fides of the private investigator before you hire anyone.)

3) Oregon private investigators can be licensed through the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST).

4) Also, there are other private investigator associations and blogs, e.g. PI Buzz, a PI blog, will give you lots of information and links to other private investigator organizations. They do loads of useful research and share it freely (thank you PI Buzz staff!).

5) There are many online social network and related public records sites online that you can search free, but these do not substitute for a criminal records check. For example, try these:

a) Virtual Chase People Finder Guide

b King County (Washington) Law Library Public Sleuthing website

c) Oregon Public Records Websites