Democracy Thrives in Sunlight
A new Missouri Supreme Court Rule that went into effect in the latter part of 2018 helps to ensure sunlight in the criminal process, and makes it easier for the public to access court records online.
Under an order effective July 1, 2018, a criminal court may not restrict court records in anticipation of a jury trial, absent a court order which sets forth specific written findings that support a “compelling justification” for restriction of access. (Rule 2.04(d))
In legal jargon, a “compelling” need is one which is so great, that irreparable harm or injustice would result if it is not met (Black’s Law Dictionary, Ninth Ed.)
There are cases where records should be sealed, and this new rule allows for that. However this makes open and public the default. And that is good for democracy.