Doxpop - Tools for Attorneys and Public Information Researchers: Please join us in opposing SB301

Friday, March 25, 2011

Please join us in opposing SB301

On March 24th, Doxpop participated in a House Committee hearing for Senate Bill 301, which proposes to increase the automated record-keeping fee portion of case filing fees charged after July 2011 by 50% (from $4 to $6.)

We oppose this bill for several reasons:
  • SB301 Increases the burden on citizens while funding a government project that competes with the private sector in Indiana.
  • The "statewide" case management system that this fee supports brings fewer features to local courts at a higher cost than existing systems already in use in the majority of Indiana Counties.
  • The independent record-keeping system of the local clerks is an important check and balance in the justice system, providing a separately maintained record for situations where an appeal or other check on a trial court is necessary. JTAC calls removing the check of local independence efficiency. We call it bad government.
  • The state court administration has consistently denied access to public court records in bulk from the state-sponsored system, even when the local courts join us in endorsing the request. This system is reducing public access to court records and subverting local government autonomy.
SB301 could be fixed if it were amended to allow local courts and clerks to use the proposed funding for the case management system of their choice as an alternative to the state-funded monopoly. If such an option were added, the fee could also be reasonably cut in half, as the alternatives are significantly cheaper.

Such an amendment would also guarantee continued funding for those counties already using the state-funded system. We're not opposed to having this system available as an option- We only oppose the State of Indiana allocating locally collected fees in a manner that forces counties to use a single vendor from out-of-state instead of freely choosing their own system from the open market.

If you'd like to join us by voicing your opinion on this bill, please contact your state legislator.

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