Q&A: Cost for public records


From the South Bend Tribune:

Q: I have two questions about court records:

What are the amounts governmental units may charge for copies of records? I know it’s different for different types of units.

How far does the statute’s requirement to allow the public to inspect and copy records go? A reporter was pulling records of a court case and realized there was so much there as to make taking written notes cumbersome.

When she took smartphone photos of the records in question, a court clerk called for security, who told her she must delete the photos while security and the clerk watched.

A: For court records, the allowable fee is $1. It’s 10 cents for black and white copies and 25 cents for color copies for most entities.

Under current law, the government agency controls how a copy of a document is created. They can use their equipment or allow you to use your equipment. They can also determine the format of a copy.

So even though the record is an Excel spreadsheet that could easily be emailed to you, for example, they can determine that you’ll receive a hard copy that you’ll have to pick up at their office.

HSPA will work to change this aspect of the law in 2014 session.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.