June 14, 2021
The Florida Supreme Court has handed down an important — but increasingly rare — open records win that’s going to mean faster access to information not just for the state’s press corps but for all Floridians.
The court last week finalized a new rule that no longer requires clerks of courts across Florida to be responsible for redacting confidential information from civil court documents. That responsibility used to fall — as it should — on those who file the documents, not those who store them.
Many readers might understandably ask, “So what? Why should I care?”
Here’s why: The 10-year-old rule forcing clerks’ offices to examine documents for private information had turned access to public information into a slow-motion proposition.
Clerks’ offices are the repository for legal documents in Florida’s 67 counties. Their ability — or inability — to efficiently process those documents and make them available has a direct effect on the public’s ability to see those documents, a right guaranteed by the Florida Constitution.