Our Presentation to the FOIA Advisory Committee on the Need for a Public Access Law for the Judicial Branch
Yesterday, along with Daniel Schuman of Demand Progress, I had the privilege of presenting to the FOIA Advisory Committee to the Archivist of the United States. He presented on the topic of what public access, FOIA-like laws might look like in the Legislative Branch, while I focused on the Judicial Branch.
To prepare for this meeting, I spoke with a number of FOIA and transparency experts to get their perspectives on and concerns about such a law. The general thrust of those conversations led to two major points that I made in my presentation:
1. We need more transparency from the Judicial Branch
Currently, the Judicial Branch responds to record requests under the Common Law Right of Access doctrine. This approach, established by English Parliament in 1372 and hence inherited by the United States, is essentially the default access that the public has when seeking records. In theory, it provides a balance between the public’s need for transparency and the government’s need for privacy or secrecy.
The Common Law Right to Inspect and Copy Judicial Records: In Camera or On Camera, 16 GA. L. REV. 659 (1982).
Unfortunately, the Common Law Right …more ...