(CN) – Courthouse News Service has sued the clerk of the Harris County District Court for same-day access to legal filings, in Houston Federal Court. After allowing such access for 10 years, the defendants, citing “security concerns,” cut the CNS reporter’s access to only 5 to 10 percent of the petitions filed daily.
By forcing the news service to wait up to five days to view the majority of new petitions before they are published on the court Web site, the defendants are effectively sealing these public records, and unlawfully elevating themselves above the media by restricting immediate access to the documents, in violation of the First Amendment, according to the complaint.
“Under the changes implemented by defendants, Courthouse News must wait anywhere from two to five days to access the cast majority of new petitions through a section of the District Clerk’s Web site known as ‘eDocs,’ the District Clerk’s own publishing arm and a source of revenue for the Clerk’s Office.”
Courthouse News sued Loren Jackson, in his official capacity as Harris County District Clerk; and Wes McCoy, in his official capacity as Chief Deputy-Services for the Harris County District Clerk’s Office. CNS seeks declaratory judgment, an injunction and costs.
Courthouse News is represented in Federal Court by John Edwards with Jackson Walker.