It seems like a reasonable idea: Before the records in a criminal or civil case can be made public, Florida’s clerks of court must purge them of all Social Security, credit card and bank numbers.
The Associated Press and newspapers throughout the state, including The News-Press, visited every county’s clerk of court offices in recent weeks to see whether each is complying with the law and how much of a delay it is causing in the release of information. The project, under the direction of the Florida Society of News Editors, was done in conjunction with this year’s Sunshine Week, an annual initiative which started last Sunday to promote greater transparency in government. In order to test the effect of the new requirement, representatives from 31 news organizations requested to view the hard copies of two civil cases and two criminal cases in all 67 counties. The criminal cases were generally a week old and six months old, as were the civil cases. Requests for 268 records were made.