Vermont reverses course on concealing lawsuits, following complaint by national news service

Following a complaint by a national legal news service, the state of Vermont issued an emergency order effective Monday directing court clerks to make public all lawsuits as soon as they are filed.

Previously, state court rules required clerks to keep lawsuits secret until defendants had been served — a violation of the public's First Amendment right to access to court records, according to a federal case brought against Vermont by Courthouse News Service.

The state initially said it would defend the confidentiality practice, but a further examination by Vermont lawyers, the Court Administrator's Office and the Supreme Court determined a change was appropriate, Deputy Attorney General Joshua Diamond said.