There is a new proposed bill that would limit the public’s access to CaseNet as a move to protect the privacy of Missourians.
For those who don’t know, CaseNet is Missouri’s online database which allows the general public to search most court records, exceptions include juvenile records and paternity cases.
The searches will provide information on docket entries to judgments, charges, court dates, appearances, names of lawyers and prosecutor’s on those cases, the defendant’s name and date of birth, etc. This information is recorded when clerks and lawyers make filing and updates utilizing the Missouri Court Automation Program’s case management software.
The politician behind the movement to close some of the public’s online access to information is Rep. Bruce DeGroot.
DeGroot recently filed legislation to prevent nonviolent misdemeanor and traffic offenses from being publicly available. However, that information would still be accessible by law enforcement agencies, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, court personnel.
DeGroot attempted last year to remove misdemeanor cases from CaseNet after five years have passed. Then it was realized that there is software that can be purchased to find that information even after five years. That bill was stalled in the judiciary committee in the house of representatives.
So this new bill would block minor crimes such as minor traffic tickets, minor in possession of alcohol and marijuana charges that could later be available to future employers to deny a job, or a nosy neighbor or classmate to use for personal reasons to harass former defendants.
DeGroot is the same representative who helped promote legislation that took away some forms of punishment against people who could not afford to pay their initial fines and court costs, leading to an unbreakable cycle.
We will have to wait to see if this new bill will gain any traction. Stay tuned to our blog.