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OKLAHOMA (03/25/08) — The Oklahoma State Supreme Court has ruled that individual pleadings and other court documents filed in state court shall not be publicly displayed on the internet.  Oklahomans wishing to see this information must go to the courthouse to view it. 

The ruling, which takes effect June 10, applies to operations of the state’s district courts.  The Court said it issued the rules to balance the privacy rights of individuals who use Oklahoma’s court system and public access to court documents.

The rules also stipulate that people filing cases should omit personal identifiers such as Social Security numbers, taxpayer identification numbers, names of minor children, dates of birth, financial account numbers and home addresses.

Omitting this information from court documents was called “outrageous overreaching” by Joey Senat, past president of FOI Oklahoma and an Oklahoma State University journalism professor specializing in freedom of information.  In a dissenting opinion, two Supreme Court justices concurred with limiting personal and private information from documents, but dissented in restricting public access to the court documents on the internet.