Online Access to Some D.C. Superior Court Records Draws Nearer, Says Chief Judge

In comments to a legal services group Thursday (17), D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Morin said online access to the  trial court record in the District is coming soon.

As he discussed during his candidacy for the chief position, Judge Morin has moved aggressively in his first six weeks to bring about 21st Century access, gaining legal approval, he said, in recent days, and then tasking IT staff to work on the back-office details that are now "near solution."

He gave no details of issues that have delayed access elsewhere, such as handling bulk requests, setting registration and fee prerequisites, or limiting access to some records such as sensitive family court matters, eviction cases that can limit housing access for years afterwards, or dismissed and not-guilty criminal cases that also can have long lasting effects.  

The new access will also only be for cases going forward. Access to records of past cases remains under consideration but raises thorny issues because of personally identifiable information involved. (Court rules are presumably different now, with lawyers under stricter pressure to keep personal details out of their court filings that may be widely viewed.)

In other transparency news, Judge Morin also announced development of a process for attorneys with urgent need to quickly access courtroom tapes and also streamlined procedures for access to aggregate data on court operations.

Reminding the audience that "most state courts around the country aren't doing this yet," Morin said he was pleased to tell the community "we're starting where we can."