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[PASSED] Public Access to Court Records

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Imperium Anglorum
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[PASSED] Public Access to Court Records

Postby Imperium Anglorum » Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:33 am

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Public Access to Court Records
Category: Regulation | Strength: Legal Reform



Whereas court records are fundamental to the ability for the public to learn of and execute effective oversight on their judicial systems :

And whereas people of limited financial means have unconscionable financial barriers to their access of such documents :

And whereas it is the case that in many nations, knowledge of judicial decisions and doctrines is required to fully understand the law as it is enforced rather than as it is stated in text, meaning that such barriers make it difficult for poor people to determine what the law actually is :

Now, therefore, be it enacted by the World Assembly, by and with the advice and consent of the Delegates and Members, in this present session assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows :

  1. Member nation court systems must to the best of their ability provide open access to unsealed court documents and their redacted derivatives in person, upon request, and online, charging no fees for the provision of such services. Reasonable limitations may be made to ensure the breadth of public access and the good faith of accessors. No limitation may be enforced on the ability of member nation inhabitants to read or reproduce such documents; nor may any copyright be recognised or enforced over documents produced by member nation courts.

  2. The public has a presumptive right to all court documents, and such documents may only be sealed: (a) upon order of a judicial officer who has determined the specific and contextualised existence of a compelling need which (i) supersedes the public's interest in open access and (ii) is essential to preserve or advance the public interest or (b) if it is required by World Assembly legislation. When a court document is sealed, member nation courts must create and release a redacted derivative without the information that fails the test in the section above and, to the extent practicable, give reasons for the exclusion of such information.

  3. All unsealed court documents and their redacted derivatives pertaining to a case must be deposited, upon the case's conclusion and within a reasonable time frame, with the Universal Library Coalition.
Last edited by Ransium on Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:25 pm, edited 21 times in total.

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Imperium Anglorum
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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:48 am

Reserved.

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Bananaistan
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Postby Bananaistan » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:38 am

OOC: Category/strength?

IC: "We support the concept but we would like to see an allowable intermediate step between either all court records or none being published. It would be rather an imposition on the concept of justice being seen to be done in Bananaistan were we unable to redact or prohibit publication of the identities of individuals involved in cases involving children or sexual assault and instead had to completely seal such court records."
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Ant Publithordia
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Postby Ant Publithordia » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:44 am

This does bring up some good questions about how much information is too much information.

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Rainbowsix
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Postby Rainbowsix » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:46 am

i think court records is too much information... it should be private
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Bears Armed
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Postby Bears Armed » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:51 am

OOC
Agreed, mostly.
However I think that the bit about making the records available online should explicitly apply only "where the necessary technology exists", so that those nations which simply aren't advanced enough technologically to have internet -- and any that deliberately eschew advanced technology in order to reduce their 'environmental footprint' -- aren't forced to introduce it.
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The New Nordic Union
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Postby The New Nordic Union » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:16 am

Reasonable limitations may be made to ensure the breadth of public access and the good faith of accessors.


OOC: Would this include regulations allowing only to access closed cases and not pending cases?
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Imperium Anglorum
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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:29 am

Banana— It's a good point. I'll consider rédaction authority.

Bears Armed— I'll go for wording that qualifies on the lines of 'best of the nation's ability' or something like that.

Rainbowsix— I don't see it that way at all. Public court records are central to the legitimacy, operation, and oversight of the judicial system. Public access, although not free, is also already the status quo in almost all common law jurisdictions.

New Nordic Union— I would say No. I also will preempt: to make ongoing cases private would eliminate any ability for the public to engage in or oversee any legal proceeding. Given likely res judicata rules, this would be a profound injustice for public accountability.
Last edited by Imperium Anglorum on Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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The New Nordic Union
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Postby The New Nordic Union » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:43 am

Imperium Anglorum wrote:Banana— It's a good point. I'll consider rédaction authority.

Bears Armed— I'll go for wording that qualifies on the lines of 'best of the nation's ability' or something like that.

Rainbowsix— I don't see it that way at all. Public court records are central to the legitimacy, operation, and oversight of the judicial system. Public access, although not free, is also already the status quo in almost all common law jurisdictions.

New Nordic Union— I would say No. I also will preempt: to make ongoing cases private would eliminate any ability for the public to engage in or oversee any legal proceeding. Given likely res judicata rules, this would be a profound injustice for public accountability.


OOC:
I am not arguing for complete privacy, I still believe proceedings should be public and documents should be released after the case is closed, but having to provide constant access to documents might hinder the judical system in doing its work in the first place. Also, cases might be resolved without a lot of involvement of the courts themselves, thus reducing the need for oversight.

Overall agreed, though.
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Imperium Anglorum
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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:48 pm

New Nordic Union— Pardon, then, because it seems like what you're advocating would just lead to a detachment of reporting and public views from the realities of the case, opening up room for irresponsible ill-informed press speculation. It would be better for a concrete record to emerge that actually permits a fact-based account of events. And to quote a judgement on this matter "what exists of the right of access if it extends only to those who can squeeze through the door?" United States v Antar, 38 F.3d 1348.

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Wayneactia
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Postby Wayneactia » Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:12 pm

"Request exceptions be made for allowing nations to keep youth proceedings sealed. Otherwise I can support this."

Wayne

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Liberimery
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Postby Liberimery » Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:44 am

Should also include some language that allows for the protection of witnesses, such as children complainants against child rapists or witness protection identities.

Also can you justify current capital crimes resolution with this as that requires the WA to seal records so neither the state nor convicted may review the methodology used by the WA. Surely you wouldn’t want to introduce a law that contradicts a law you introduced, right?

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Imperium Anglorum
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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:58 am

There already exists a broad authority in the proposal to seal records if it supersedes public interest and is essential to protect the public interest. There is no sealing provision in P Innocents.

Rédaction authority is going to be provided by means of extending those provisions to parts of the record.

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Araraukar
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Postby Araraukar » Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:13 am

OOC: Definitions for court documents and court records, please? Also, in RL, not all nations have open trials in front of journalists and random members of the public as a rule, so why should they make ongoing cases public in any other way either? I don't see why such a social porn reality show with people wanting to know all the nasty details of a trial for no legitimate reason should be produced by the WA.
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Imperium Anglorum
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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:43 am

No.

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Bananaistan
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Postby Bananaistan » Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:17 pm

Araraukar wrote:OOC: Definitions for court documents and court records, please? Also, in RL, not all nations have open trials in front of journalists and random members of the public as a rule, so why should they make ongoing cases public in any other way either? I don't see why such a social porn reality show with people wanting to know all the nasty details of a trial for no legitimate reason should be produced by the WA.


OOC: The entirely more reasonable interpretation is that this wouldn't require making ongoing cases public. A judge has no chance of fairly assessing whether records should be sealed (per current exemption) or partially redacted (per the intended additional exemption) until the entire case is closed. In this context, publication of the details of cases after they've finished won't turn trials into social porn reality shows. And people have a general legitimate reason to know what's going in trials, as per the first line of the preamble: "[to] execute effective oversight on their judicial systems." Closed trials with no publicity is a bit dictator-ish.
Last edited by Bananaistan on Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Araraukar
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Postby Araraukar » Thu Sep 12, 2019 2:06 am

Bananaistan wrote:Closed trials with no publicity is a bit dictator-ish.

OOC: Of course this is in Finnish, but basically it lists a large number of reasons for why a civil justice trial (the actual event where people speak to one another and the judge) can be closed from the public (and anyone present, like the witnesses, lawyers, accuser, defendant and such are held to secrecy about the happenings). If that can still be done according to this proposal, then no objections, but also it'll be loopholeable to death.
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Great Nortend
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Postby Great Nortend » Mon Sep 16, 2019 4:55 am

OOC: What about countries which do not use the Internet or have little Internet access? No previous GA resolutions mandate Internet access (#407 specifies that nothing in this resolution prohibits member nations from regulating internet-enabled devices or internet content, applications, and services.) If this includes judgments, this would seriously affect the law reports industry if the courts were required to provide copies of all cases available on-line free of charge also.
Last edited by Great Nortend on Mon Sep 16, 2019 5:02 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Imperium Anglorum
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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Mon Sep 16, 2019 5:58 am

I'm not sure as to why I ought care about the law reports industry if they are just rent-seeking by redistributing information without adding any value. If you go to Lexis or WestLaw, the Header notes, search functionality, etc is what brings value to the user, not the text itself.
Last edited by Imperium Anglorum on Mon Sep 16, 2019 9:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Imperium Anglorum
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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:06 am

Bump.

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Desmosthenes and Burke
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Postby Desmosthenes and Burke » Tue Oct 01, 2019 5:53 pm

"We agree in principle. We would request a minor change to the 'free of charge' provision, just to make it clear that "free of charge" applies only to record availability, and not to the reproduction thereof, just in the interest of providing no ambiguities to be complained of or misused later.

OOC: I am particularly thinking of something like the person in my hometown who tried to use a similar legal provision to argue that a library had to copy the record of every case before a particular judge free of charge, which would have been upwards of 100,000 pages of material.
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Free Santa Rosa
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Postby Free Santa Rosa » Tue Oct 01, 2019 6:32 pm

Can we have a definition of what constitutes a court record? A fascist state could easily claim that court records are what they say they are and circumvent this resolution. Other than that, we agree to its principle.

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Great Nortend
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Postby Great Nortend » Tue Oct 01, 2019 9:54 pm

OOC: Imperium Anglorum, you didn't address the first part of my query in re the Internet.
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Imperium Anglorum
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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:12 am

I've added the clause that I promised to BA. I'm going to also tell you that the words court records are not so vague as to render the resolution unenforceable.

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Araraukar
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Postby Araraukar » Wed Oct 02, 2019 11:06 am

OOC: Can you at least answer if court records equals court documents, for this proposal?

And court records is not that simple a word as you'd like, especially once it gets translated. And you can say gnomes are perfect translators, which doesn't change the fact that if you use a single word that has three possible meanings when translated, without a definition a nation wanting the least effort from this, is of course going to choose the translation that is least effort to obey, and which very likely is not what you mean by the word.

EDIT: Also, depending which passes first, this can run into trouble with SP's rape shield one.
Last edited by Araraukar on Wed Oct 02, 2019 11:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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