RCFP, PNA letter to Pennsylvania Supreme Court highlights barriers to accessing court records

Reporters Committee May 24 2022 Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press  

A coalition of organizations led by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association is urging the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to ensure consistent and meaningful public access to judicial records throughout the Commonwealth. 

In a letter delivered to Chief Justice Max Baer on May 24, 2022, the coalition expressed concerns about ongoing and systemic barriers to public access to criminal court records.  

“Judicial records are used every day by a wide variety of organizations and individuals for far-ranging purposes. They are used by community members, lawyers, genealogists, librarians, academics, civil rights organizations, historians, businesses, and students. Newsrooms use court records daily to inform their communities of significant events. Access to court records is not only critically necessary, but also constitutionally required.” 

The letter highlights access issues in several counties across the Commonwealth, including York, where Reporters Committee attorneys are currently litigating a First Amendment public access case against the county clerk of courts. 

Read more here