Fayette County, Penn., taxpayers who want access to public documents detailing neighborhood crimes now need to make their requests in writing and must wait for approval from a district judge, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Fayette County Court Administrator Karen Kuhn said she was following state policy on public access to criminal records when she recently implemented the directive. An attorney for a state media association called the practice “inappropriate.”
Kuhn said she will ask her office’s solicitor to review language in the state policy, which she said requires judges to release criminal complaints, as well. Melissa Melewsky of the media group said a section in the policy explains that forms may be required if the request is either “complex or voluminous” in nature. The policy reads: “Most requests received by the courts are very straightforward and for a small number of records. Therefore, artificial administrative barriers should not be erected to inhibit the courts from fulfilling these requests in an efficient manner.” She said a request for a simple document should not require judicial approval.