Federal judge rules Virginia’s restricted access to court records violates First Amendment  

Marie Feyche – University of Pittsburgh School of Law – United States  

January 16 2022  


A district court judge in Virginia on Friday found Virginia’s online civil court system violated First Amendment rights of the press and public because of the system’s restricted access to newly filed civil complaints. 

The Officer of the Court Remote Access (OCRA) system makes civil filings available to attorneys through a per-court subscription fee. Authorized users can access filings from the courts they are subscribed to. The public and news outlets cannot use OCRA. Instead, non-attorneys need to physically go to the courts to access the documents. Approximately 90 of the 120 courts in Virginia use OCRA. 

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