by Max Brantley
The Arkansas Supreme Court today amended its rule on Internet access to court records to require clerks to redact information such as Social Security numbers in cases filed before Jan. 1, 2009 when new rules kept such information out of filing. Clerks around the state are in the process of scanning older cases to make them electronically accessible and some of the cases have included unredacted files that can be targeted in Internet searches, the court said.
The court also left to the discretion of the respective courts — the chief judge in a judicial circuit, for example — what information may be accessible on the Internet beyond some basic information about parties and final orders.
The order doesn't limit access to paper records in courthouses, which still can be viewed without restriction — absent any sealing orders — in person.
* LAWYER'S SUSPENSION AFFIRMED: The Supreme Court refused to lift a suspension of Hot Springs lawyer Sky Tapp while disbarment proceedings are underway. A panel of the Committee on Professional Conduct faulted Tapp in two cases: 1s handling of money in his trust account and 2) for filing bankruptcy for partners in a failed real estate investment when they weren't his clients. The Court said the potential of harm to the public outweighed Tapp's concerns about damage to his law practice in the interim and found a likelihood he'd ultimately face a serious sanction based on findings so far. Justices Jo Hart and Karen Baker concurred that Tapp's handling of trust account money justified his suspension, but took issue with standards the majority used in the other matter.
* SPLIT COURT: Supreme Court watchers will also note that Baker and Hart were together again, with Justice Cliff Hoofman, against a four-justice majority on whether to reconsider a decision in a truck rate case.