Chief Justice John Minton Jr. has ordered all circuit court clerks and judges in Kentucky to make public at least the case numbers and names of parties in thousands of sealed court cases, according to The Courier-Journal.
The Louisville newspaper said the action came after it asked for an accounting of 3,600 cases sealed from public view over the past decade. Minton sent an email to clerks and judges reminding them that sealing court cases should be done rarely and "only for compelling reasons," and that the existence of such cases should never be hidden from the public.
Minton told the newspaper that in recent years, after Kentucky adopted new computer technology, cases that were sealed were moved to the "confidential division," and even the case numbers and participants were hidden. That was a mistake, he said, and the Kentucky Department of Technology would begin immediately change the programming involved. Clerks will also be asked to "make adjustments to previously sealed cases," the paper quoted Minton as saying.
The change will not open the sealed cases, but will reveal docket numbers and parties involved. Jon Fleischaker, who represents the Kentucky Press Association, The Courier-Journal and some other news outlets, said Minton's order was a step toward more transparency.