Journalists can still get access to court records
While the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted or limited access to Iowa county courthouses, journalists can still get access to court records.
Public computer terminals which allow citizens and reporters access to court filings may be inaccessible with the coronavirus forcing courthouses to restrict access, but county clerks of court can still provide the information, according to Steve Davis, Iowa Judicial Branch communications director.
“County clerks of court will generate Iowa Courts Online Newspaper reports and email the reports to members of the news media upon request from a member of the news media who regularly covers the courts in the county where the request is made,” Davis said. “Members of the news media may call or email the clerk to make the request by specifying case group, start date and end date as would be done at the public terminal.”
Randy Evans, executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, further encourages journalists to first contact the court clerk to see if they would be able to get access to the clerk’s office to view the files they seek.
Also, Evans says, if journalists need access to a lawsuit, court ruling or criminal complaint and are unable to get the court clerk to email the document, they can contact him at IowaFOICouncil@gmail.com. Provide him details of the records sought and Evans will use the Council’s online access to retrieve documents for the journalist. There is no cost for this service, Evans said.