The editorial pages of six newspapers have come out swinging against the $10 fee court administrators want everytime somebody requests to look at a court file.
• The San Francisco Chronicle said: “The fee undercuts the notion of open records, a transparent legal system and public accountability. … These charges diminish public trust and confidence.”
- • The Santa Rosa Press Democrat called the fee “an astonishingly bad idea to raise money for the courts.”
- • The Redding Record Searchlight said: “The new fee will pinch more is among the average citizens with an interest in public records — to keep an eye on lawsuits involving City Hall or the school board or a development or crime in their own neighborhood. Every new fee is a new barrier that makes it harder for them to do their civic duty.”
- • The Monterey Herald said: “A $10 search fee would be devastating to newspapers and other news operations, especially relatively small ones such as The Herald. Newspapers this size routinely seek access to five to 10 specific files each week and review dozens of new court filings each month in search of potential stories — many of them about important public business. Most newspapers and TV stations in California would be forced to cut back significantly on their reportage of legal matters, meaning the public would receive much less information about ongoing court cases and newsworthy civil matters.”
- • The Sacramento Bee said: “Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye was correct when she warned a joint session of the Legislature last week that ‘equal access to justice’ can’t be shortchanged. This wrongheaded proposal does not help her cause.”
- • And The San Jose Mercury News said: “There is no excuse for limiting access to public information based on income. Scratch this bad idea and look elsewhere to fund the courts.”