Published on:

Guidelines on Public Rights of Access to Judicial Proceedings and Records (Mass.)


Massachusetts has Guidelines on the Public Rights of Access to Judicial Proceedings and Records.

This seems to be a relevant post for us here at the Oregon Legal Research Blog given the most recent statewide and local Oregon difficulties (to put it mildly) public officials are having with the true meaning and spirit of our Public Records Laws.  (And remember the 2006 Multnomah County Auditor’s report on eliminating barriers to access to public records? There are many more of those, er, aspirational public records proclamations, where that came from, local and statewide. Sigh.) (By the way, Auditor or “accountability” reports at many levels of government are a great research resource.)

These particular Massachusetts’ guidelines start off with this statement of their:

Judicial proceedings should not be shrouded in secrecy. Access fosters informed public discussion of governmental affairs. “It is desirable that the trial of causes should take place under the public eye, not because the controversies of one citizen with another are of public concern, but because it is of the highest moment that those who administer justice should always act under the sense of public responsibility, and that every citizen should be able to satisfy himself with his own eyes as to the mode in which a public duty is performed.” Cowley v. Pulsifer, 137 Mass. 392, 394 (1884) (Holmes, J.). Only the most compelling reasons justify the closure of judicial proceedings or the nondisclosure of judicial records. Access to judicial records and proceedings shall not be restricted to any class or group of persons.1 The media’s right of access to judicial proceedings and records derives entirely from the public’s right of access. The media has neither a greater nor a lesser right to be present than any other member of the public….” [Link to Guidelines full text.]

Hat tip to LawSites, which had a cite to this Rights of Access document in one of its blog postings.