Online court document ruling faces opposition

Tuesday, March 18th 2008, 10:01 pm
By: News 9

By Stacey Cameron, NEWS 9

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled birth dates, home addresses, and employment history are too private to post online, at least when it comes to court records.

Some people are worried the ruling will hurt businesses conducting potential employees' background checks.

Using nearly every day, David Blanton felt the free court site was incredibly helpful when looking into a potential employees' criminal backgrounds.

Blanton owns Prehire Screening Services, a company hired to run background checks on potential employees in a wide range of businesses.

"We do car dealerships, oil and gas companies, Indian casinos," Blanton said.

Blanton said with the help of OSCN, he can complete a background check in less than a day.

Since the Oklahoma Supreme Court decided to limit public access to court records online starting June 10, court documents Blanton uses will no longer be available.

"I would have to tell my companies that we could not perform accurate back ground checks," Blanton said.

The Supreme Court cites privacy as the reason for pulling the documents, fearing too much personal information is online and in court records.

Patricia Presely is Oklahoma County's Clerk of Courts.

While she understands the Court's argument in protecting privacy, she says the court documents in her office, and online, are the public's and that's exactly who should have access to them.

"They are open records and they've been open since we started filing court records," Presely said.

If the court doesn't reverse its ruling by June 10, several press and legal organizations say they'll consider suing the Oklahoma Supreme Court in federal court.