Wednesday, November 2, 2011
FOI Oklahoma asks state Supreme Courts to drop proposed rules that would limit information in court records
Oklahomans have until Friday to tell the state Supreme Court what they think of proposed rules that would ban personal information from court records.
Here is FOI Oklahoma's letter to the court:
Freedom of Information Oklahoma Inc. asks the Oklahoma Supreme Court to reconsider its proposed rules that would remove personal information from criminal and civil court records.
FOI Oklahoma is a statewide organization founded in 1990 to educate the public on rights of the First Amendment and to promote openness in government. It has a broad based membership including journalists, attorneys, librarians and others interested in preserving the free flow of information.
The organization believes the court’s proposed rules are over broad and would negatively impact basic information that every citizen of the state should be able to access easily.
Especially chilling is the proposal to redact personal identification information. The public would lose its ability to track defendants in criminal and civil cases.
Although the court has said it does not want to limit access to court documents; that appears to be exactly what the proposed rules would do.
It is in the best interest of the public to have as much information available as possible. Erasing this information as proposed by the court would be a step back, not a step forward.
FOI Oklahoma endorses former Attorney General Drew Edmondson’s statement opposing any rule or legislation that limits the public’s right to know. Edmondson said that as a former prosecutor, having access to identification such as dates of birth on criminal court records is important.
FOI Oklahoma applauds the court’s work in making court records available electronically.
However, the organization feels removing personal identifiers from these records negates any positive aspect of electronic records.
FOI Oklahoma hopes the court will recognize the public’s right to full access of this information far outweighs all other concerns.
Bryan Dean, President, FOI Oklahoma
Staff Writer, The Oklahoman