Stop new fees for California court records

California's Administrative Office of the Courts has written a bill that imposes a $10 fee each time someone requests a court file -- a fee that would also apply to journalists, who regularly request dozens of such documents as part of ordinary beat reporting.

"If you asked for 10 files and you're a reporter, it's probably going to be $100 in that situation," Santa Clara County's head court clerk, David Yamasaki, told reporter Maria Dinzeo, who covered the story for Courthouse News Service.

Public records already are prepared with taxpayer dollars.

And with newsroom resources at historic lows, increased court file retrieval fees would have a chilling effect on coverage by even the best-funded newsrooms -- and may bar access altogether for independent journalists and start-up news sites that lack deep pockets.

Sign the petition below to tell lawmakers and courts in California that this new fee is an intolerable restriction of the public's right to know.

Government should be open to all, not just those wealthy enough to pay for access.

Court records already are paid for by taxpayers. Charging to access them violates the principles of open government -- and threatens a terrible blow to the public's right to know.

We ask California legislators to publicly oppose any version of this new fee immediately, lest this trailer-bill provision slip through without proper scrutiny and open debate.
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The Newspaper Guild-CWA

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