by Max Brantley
Saline Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan announced today that Saline County has joined eight others with free access to court records through the Arkansas Supreme Court's project to make court records accessible on the web.
"Web" reminds me: Not ALL Saline court records are available yet. I'm thinking particularly of probate.
Saline County has joined Clark, Crawford, Faulkner, Garland, Hot Spring, Pulaski, Searcy and Van Buren counties with Internet access. A number of other counties have some limited Internet access. Washington, and perhaps others, have Internet access, but you have to pay for it. Which is just wrong.
It's like my own dwindling industry. Someday, everything will be digitized. We can argue forever about the issue of charging for access to digital content created by profit-making enterprises such as newspapers. But I don't see how you can argue that digital access to public records should carry a fee, when inspection of paper copies does not.
Someday before long, state courts will have e-filing as the federal courts do and that will speed digital records along with public access. (Yes, though there are ways around it for limited uses, the feds charge for access to their filing system. At a minimum all district courts should do as the circuit courts do and allow free looks at the day's opinions.)