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Report: Access to public records in Virginia cour

Courthousenews: “Traveling more than 1,000 miles over the course of five days, Courthouse News journalists visited 25 Virginia circuit courts to report on civil complaints filed in those courthouses. Their goal was to demonstrate what it would take to cover the public record of the Virginia courts by visiting each courthouse in person. The trip took the journalists down the western edge of the Commonwealth and into the small counties of southwest Virginia. During five days from September 19 through September 23, 2022, they started when one clerk’s office opened and finished their work late in the afternoon as the last clerk’s office closed. In all those 25 courts, the journalists printed a total of 10 recent complaints that were sufficiently newsworthy to include in Courthouse News new litigation reports, out of hundreds of lesser matters. During their travels, they also found a network of working clerks who wanted to give reporters online access but said they could not. Nearly all the clerks freely gave public access to a “vault” that contained paper land records and often civil case records, while also serving as a historical library for the court. Within the vaults were computer terminals that displayed an icon that says “CPS,” standing for Circuit Public Search, a program developed and maintained by the Richmond-based Office of the Executive Secretary, often referred to as OES. The records seen through the Circuit Public Search program were the same records that can be seen online through a program called Officer of the Court Remote Access, or OCRA, also developed and maintained by the Executive Secretary…”

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