Spurred by the Centre County trial court’s decision to place on the Internet court filings
related to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case, the state’s intermediate appellate court has decided to follow suit with its own public information webpage.
Pennsylvania Superior Court will soon unveil a media and public information page that will be updated with court filings related to cases of “public interest.”
The announcement was made via news release July 9 by Superior Court President Judge Correale Stevens.
The webpage, Stevens said in a statement, would provide easy access to filed court documents from “cases of important public interest.”
“The Superior Court understands the importance of easy access to court filings in cases of public interest,” Stevens said in his statement, which was released by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. “The webpage that the Centre County court created for the Commonwealth v. Sandusky case was widely used and has served as an example for what we hope to accomplish on our website.”
In the past, only court dockets and Superior Court judicial opinions were available online. Now, the public and members of the press will be able to view motions and other court filings electronically.
The move, Stevens stated, was designed to make it easier for citizens and journalists to obtain such detailed case information, without having to venture to court offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.
“We will post as much information as we can,” Stevens said in his statement. “Of course, for various legal reasons, any documents that are ordered sealed will not be posted on the website until the issue of sealing is resolved. For example, a motion involving an ongoing drug investigation would likely be sealed and not immediately available.”
The new page, www.superior.court.state.pa.us., has been crated, but no documents have been posted as of yet.
The Superior Court’s decision to make available electronic court filings is another move in a recent line of decisions aimed at making the state’s court system more public-friendly.
The First Judicial District, also known as Philadelphia’s Court System, recently made civil court filings available on its website.
And the state Supreme Court last year altered a longstanding rule that barred cameras of any form from taking images of the high court’s proceedings.
The Pennsylvania judiciary has long prohibited cameras inside courtrooms. But this past August, the Supreme Court justices announced a plan by which their proceedings would be recorded and aired on the Pennsylvania Cable Network, the state’s equivalent of C-Span.
The tapings aren’t aired live, however; they appear at a later date and time.
While the move loosened the rules a bit, cameras are still off limits at trial courts and other minor judiciaries.
On top of all of this, the courts have stepped foot into the world of social media, with various state courts’ information being posted to the networking websites Facebook and Twitter.