~ the internet version of public records ~

A problem with the evolving policies of state courts redefining public access to court case files is highlighted in this opinion piece by a Pennsylvania media lawyer. There is no logical basis for a distinction between public records available electronically and the same records obtainable across the counter at the court clerk’s office. But this distinction is the very recommendation of Florida court administrators and others who have considered this question. Redaction of some personal identifiers may be warranted, but limiting the range of documents at a government Internet site may even be unwise. As records are more commonly stored only in electronic form, and the paper trail has a denouement, the right to access hard copy documents will be moot.

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