New ruling strictly limits public access to online court records 

The Oklahoma State Supreme Court handed down county courthouse guidelines March 11 dealing with the availability of court documents to the public, and the type of information the public can see on those documents.

In a ruling in which three justices disagreed, the court said private information listed on documents " such as Social Security numbers and home addresses " should be blacked out from public viewing.

The court also said court filings such as pleadings in cases should no longer be available on the Oklahoma State Courts Network Web site.

DISSENT
Five justices voted in favor of the new rules while three dissented (or dissented in part). One of the dissenting justices, Steven Taylor, rejected all of the new rules. Another justice, Marian Opala, did not participate.

There was little explanation provided in the ruling from the five majority justices as to why the new rules were adopted. The only clue seems to come in the first line of the decree:
"In an effort to balance the rights of privacy of individuals who use Oklahoma's court system and public access to court documents, the Oklahoma Supreme Court adopts the following rules."

The Oklahoma Press Association and the Oklahoma First Amendment Congress denounced the new rules. Even district attorneys felt some of the guidelines went too far.

"I've been concerned with too much personal information on the Internet," said Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater. "Criminals can find addresses on victims. I applaud the restriction of personal information. But I'm against restricting access from the Internet." "Scott Cooper

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