Why Court Records Are Important Public Records

October 25, 2019 10:08 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Court reporting records in Phoenix, AZ are formed in real time and reflect a witness’ or party’s actual statement. There is no doubt that they are a vital part of court records. The Freedom of Information Act and various state information acts made these records public to encourage transparency and accountability. Here are four reasons why this is important and a vital part of our democratic system of government:

  • Accountability: A secretive justice system is likely to be an ineffective one. There would be no deterrent effect in fair criminal sentences, but also no accountability if rulings are not in line with the rule of law. It makes it easier to abuse power or offer special treatment. While the system is far from perfect, many reforms occurred because of what people saw going on in an open and public court system with public records. This creates a system that allows citizens to be empowered.
  • Learning opportunities: It would be nearly impossible to learn the law or master precedents if law students and young lawyers could not access court records or watch proceedings. The open system allows for many learning opportunities that are difficult to obtain in any other way. Since the functioning of the legal system depends heavily on the skills of its advocates, this helps ensure that citizens continue to have access to competent legal guidance and new lawyers have the ability to learn.
  • Accuracy in reporting: Access to the court records is not just limited to lawyers and common citizens. It is also extended to news reporters. One reason for the Freedom of Information Act was to make it easier for reporters to access court records for news stories. The act imposes timeframes for making records available, penalties for wrongfully withholding information and a no-fee system for journalists seeking specific records. In 1996, this was expanded to allow electronic access to records, and in 2007, the right was also extended to bloggers and alternative journalists.
  • Encourage transparency: The Freedom of Information Act was originally enacted in 1966, but it did not expand into an investigation tool until after the Watergate scandal. Before, it was a response to government secrecy and outrage, so the rights to access information and check government overreach expanded. With the Watergate scandal, the need to dig deeper and access court records became greater, especially for journalists. This transparency lends to better credibility and faith in the system, as well as the grounds to protest or file lawsuits if shortcomings are discovered.

Besides the federal act, there are state information accessibility acts that are often more extensive. They may include video or audio information, such as interviews, depositions or even video conference recordings. In many states, records are presumed to be open and public unless marked with a specific statutory exemption that maintains information confidentiality.

Bartelt | Nix Reporting, LLC plays a critical role in creating court reporting records in Phoenix, AZ for trials, hearings and depositions. If you require a court reporter for a hearing or deposition, contact us today to schedule service.

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