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In court or at Capitol, openness should always be the goal

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: October 10, 2013

State Rep. Aaron Stiles is on the right track with his effort to ensure that more, not fewer, court records are made available to the public. Perhaps Stiles will take some of that same zealousness for openness to his colleagues at the Capitol.

Stiles, R-Norman, told a House Judiciary Committee meeting Tuesday that he wants to curb the instances where judges go too far in sealing court records in traditionally open cases. Judges may do so if they determine it's in the best interest of justice.

Stiles recently told judges he wants to “eliminate the ‘interest of justice' standard and to enumerate the specific situations when records can be sealed so we have a clear and equal rule for all citizens.”

That enumeration could be a problem, as some judges explained to Stiles. One district judge, who gave Stiles examples in which he felt colleagues had closed records wrongfully, also warned that trying to create a list of what should or shouldn't be available is a headache waiting to happen.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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