AOC’s Rule of Court Proposal On Access Comes With Limits

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Cheryl Miller of The Recorder wrote in an article last Friday that the AOC’s newly proposed Rule of Court regarding access to court records comes with a long laundry list of items that the AOC has decided are off limits.  A list that would essentially, in the words of Ms. Miller, “shield large amounts of information from public scrutiny.”  And it should come as no surprise to anyone that AOC critics and First Amendment groups are not happy with the AOC.

So what is it the AOC would like shielded from the prying eyes of the public?  According to the article they would include items like:

“records related to “pending or anticipated” claims; complaints against bench officers, including temporary and assigned judges; work e-mail addresses and phone numbers; and anything judicial leaders decide would “discourage candid discussion” within the branch if it was disclosed — the so-called “deliberative process exemption.”

The article also goes on to relate that another problem that certain groups have with the Rule of Court covering access is that courts would be able to charge “commercial” information seekers for costs related to their requests while “non-commercial seekers” would get “two free hours of staff search time before incurring costs.” The AOC says that courts no longer have the money to conduct searches free of charge. Peter Scheer of the First Amendment Coalition says that “This whole concept of charging for search time is one that is completely alien to California law governing access to public records.”

If you want to read the proposed rule you may do so by clicking here. And don’t forget that the deadline for comments on the proposed rule is October 29, 2009, at 5pm.

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