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Oklahoma Supreme Court rules against release of case records

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October 21, 2009

Oklahoma: On October 8, 2009, the Oklahoma Supreme Court modified their procedures for the release of the records of case information, in an attempt to bar the bulk release of case information.

The Court, which has historically maintained an online list of all criminal and civil court rulings through the Oklahoma Supreme Court Network and the On Demand Court Records websites, established a new internal rule which will prevent the disclosure of "all or a significant subset of electronic case information". The rule comes in response to a request from a business for all the Supreme Court records, which would have cost the business between $20,000 to $40,000 for the Courts to produce it. The court claims that the rule was made through consultation with the Oklahoma Open Records Act and the policies of supreme courts in other states. They also claimed that the rule was in compliance with current open records legislation and would not prevent future compliance. The rule also allowed the Supreme Court to contract out the online access of all state judicial proceedings to a private company.[1]

The position of the Court

Chief Justice James Edmondson claimed that the rule is a first step in organizing a comprehensive online database that would allow individuals to access briefs from any particular court case. By combining the two separate websites under a private provider, Edmondson claims that, "In two or three years, we hope to have a integrated system that has the latest technology and provider system".[1]

Response from the open records community

Former President of FOI Oklahoma criticized the request, claiming that under the new rule, "meaningful analysis of the state's court systems would be nearly impossible".[2]


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