Oklahoma Supreme Court bars bulk distribution of electronic case information

Meaningful analysis of the state's court systems would be nearly impossible under an Oklahoma Supreme Court plan to bar bulk distribution of electronic case information, say FOI Oklahoma Inc. members who conduct database reporting.

An administrative directive released Oct. 8 by the court states, "Bulk distribution of electronic case information is not allowed." (SCAD-2009-92)

The justices provided no explanation or justification for the rule. They unanimously approved the directive.

Under the directive, "electronic access is available only to the electronic case information of a particular case. When a search for electronic case information for an individual case returns multiple results, each result may be viewed only individually."

"Bulk distribution of any electronic case data by a software provider is not allowed," according to the directive.

The state Supreme Court earned FOI Oklahoma's inaugural Black Hole Award in 2008 after justices limited online access to court dockets only. The justices also restricted which information the public could obtain from the paper copies of legal documents filed with court clerks.

Following public outcry over the rules, the court rescinded them.

Justice Yvonne Kauger dissented from the original order, saying: "The court made this decision with input only from the court clerks. Others directly affected by the decision — the bar, the bench, the Legislature, the public — were not consulted.”

Seems like they've done that again.

Thank you to FOI Oklahoma board member Doug Wilson for alerting us.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Journalism

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.