And, he said, KellPro couldn’t change its restrictions after signing the 2009 contract because the contract locked in the status quo until the new case management system is launched.
“That contract limited any further development, because any development from that point on was solely for the Unified Case Management System,” Sorensen said. “That contract was signed after we already had launched our beta product with the Oklahoma Bar Association members, and there has been no change to who has access or anything since that point.”
Sorensen also drew distinctions between the funding mechanisms for OSCN and ODCR. He said ODCR is funded under its contract to post court information, but not the actual documents.
“We don’t receive any funds to offer those documents, that’s just been a service KellPro provides,” Sorensen said. “The images that are available on OSCN are limited, but they’re free. And the reason they’re free is they’re on a taxpayer-funded website.”
Some users, including the Enid News & Eagle, have until recently been able to view and print documents from ODCR without a bar association membership, login password or $50 fee to KellPro. Asked why that has now changed, Sorensen said “Nothing has changed ... I’m not sure how that would have happened, and it should not have been the case.”
Other officials contend open and equal access to the public court documents should have been the case all along.
“The state supreme court and the appeals courts agree, the Open Records Act applies to these documents, to court records,” said Joey Senat, a professor of media law at Oklahoma State University and an open government advocate.
“The Open Records Act doesn’t allow for special access by certain groups,” Senat said. “The bar association members are no more entitled to access than anyone else.”