Claremore Daily Progress

Crime/Courts

September 12, 2012

Open records case to be examined

ENID — The Oklahoma Supreme Court is taking on the question of whether a state contractor’s fee schedule for online court documents violates the Open Records Act.

Mike Evans, administrative director of the courts, told the Tulsa World he asked the Supreme Court to review a policy that limits access to documents on the On Demand Court Records website to members of the Oklahoma Bar Association and charges a $50 per month fee to download files.

Oklahoma’s online court records currently are maintained on two websites. Oklahoma Supreme Court Network, OSCN, serves 13 counties, including the state’s largest courts. The remaining 64 counties are served by ODCR under a 2009 contract with Duncan-based software management firm KellPro.

A new statewide Unified Case Management System is currently planned to replace both OSCN and ODCR and compile records of all Oklahoma courts on one website — paid for with tax dollars and with no-fee access to the public.

Until the new system takes over, KellPro plans to continue charging the fees to download court documents, a practice some critics say violates the company’s 2009 state contract and/or the Open Records Act.

KellPro CEO James Sorensen told the News & Eagle Monday the company’s arrangement with the bar association predates its 2009 contract with the state, and the fee schedule is “nothing new.”

“We’ve only offered access to bar association members since it first started, and it’s never been free,” Sorensen said. “This is nothing new.

Back in 2009, we launched this service because we had a lot of people saying it cost too much to drive to these county courthouses.”

Sorensen said the company always has offered basic court docket information free to the public, but downloads of court document images come at a price and are limited to bar members.

“The bar association was a group the court clerks, who govern our software, were comfortable with,” Sorensen said.

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Crime/Courts