South Florida Sun-Sentinel by Marc Freeman
June 11, 2021
Public access to most civil court records in Florida is expected to significantly improve thanks to an order this week from the state Supreme Court.
Advocates for freedom of information hailed the unanimous ruling as a victory, saying it removes a troublesome blockade where all filings were screened by court clerks’ offices for confidential material before anyone could get a look.
“It made me feel gratified and proud of the judicial system, because the justices value transparency and they took concrete steps to make sure Florida’s courts are open,” said Carol LoCicero, an attorney for the South Florida Sun Sentinel and other state and national news outlets.
But an organization that represents court clerk offices in all 67 counties opposed the change — which takes effect July 1 — as endangering individual privacy.
The clerks warn that it’s too risky to depend on lawyers to take the initiative of flagging Social Security numbers and bank account information in their pleadings.