There are fees charged under certain circumstances for obtaining court records, such as the court clerks’ fee schedule for faxing or copying documents.
But, Senat said, any fee charged for access has to be equally applied and be limited to the cost of producing the document.
“The Open Records Act and attorney general opinions and court decisions make it clear: The cost of any records request is the direct, reasonable cost of providing that specific record,” Senat said. “I’m not sure how a flat subscription fee would work and still be in compliance with the Open Records Act.”
Senat also took issue with KellPro’s commercial marketing of the document downloads, since other companies do not have the access to the documents available through KellPro’s contract.
“Any other company should be entitled to access those records and provide them to the public, and I don’t believe that’s the case,” Senat said.
“Essentially, KellPro has a monopoly on providing online access to them.”
Senat said the state supreme court should require the fees and bar association restriction for document access be lifted from ODCR.
Sorensen said the path to equal and open access to court documents is full implementation of the Unified Case Management System, not a change to the way KellPro does business.
“We know the best long-term answer to availability is the Unified Case Management System,” Sorensen said.
But, KellPro will not play a role in the new system once it is implemented. The company lost out in bidding for that contract to AMCAD, a Virginia-based software company that specializes in court document management.
“Our software is going to be replaced, and as it is replaced, those counties will be dropping off ODCR,” Sorensen said. “We fully support the Unified Case Management System, we just won’t be involved in it once its implemented.”
Just how long KellPro will be able to continue collecting its fees for and limiting access to court documents on ODCR is uncertain. No timeline for the court’s review of the KellPro policy was available Monday, and implementation of the new system is not scheduled to begin until next year.