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Monday, April 19, 2010

Should Mo. restrict online court records?

Gavel

A committee is asking the Missouri Supreme Court to restrict how much information is available via Case.Net, the state's online database of court records. Right now, you can usually find a party's full address -- the proposal would limit that to city, state and zip code. The committee also wants to remove listings of criminal cases where the defendant was acquitted or the charge was dismissed.

This information would still be public record -- people would just have to go to the courthouse to view it.

The Missouri Press Association is fighting the changes because, A, they're generally opposed to limiting access to public records, paid for by taxpayers. And, B, it would be a pain in the neck for reporters who write criminal and civil cases. Right now, it's a fairly simple matter to double-check the outcome of a trial by using Case.Net.

It's not hard to understand why the committee wants to make these changes. EVERYBODY can use Case.Net, from potential employers to landlords considering your rental application. Even if you've been found not guilty of a crime, there are still a lot of people who are going to hold that against you.

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