1. Archive

Media argue for openness

A pending constitutional amendment should mean greater public access to court records, not an excuse for blanket exemptions keeping things secret, news media attorneys told the state Supreme Court on Monday.

"What I've heard is business as usual," said Parker Thomson, an attorney for media organizations.

The justices are considering whether to adopt the new rules in preparation for the expected passage Nov. 3 of a constitutional amendment applying public records and open-meetings laws to more state officials, including legislators and judges.

A Supreme Court-appointed committee designing the rules has included a number of exemptions for courts.

Both sides acknowledged there are certain court records and activities that must remain private to ensure fair administration of justice.

But unless the exemptions use a standard that they be "sufficiently compelling" to depart from the public interest of open records, Thomson said, news organizations fear courts will abuse the exemption.