Officials in Nueces County, Texas, Oppose re:SearchTX Court Record Database

The online database contains court records from across the state, which is now possible through legislation passed last session requiring counties to digitally file court documents.

by Julie Garcia, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Texas / March 8, 2017
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(TNS) -- On Wednesday, the the Nueces County, Texas, Commissioners Court officially opposed an initiative by the Office of Court Administration called "re:SearchTX." The online database contains court records from across the state, which is now possible through legislation passed last session requiring counties to digitally file court documents.

The database is only available to Texas judges, but will soon be available to lawyers. District Clerk Anne Lorentzen said eventually it would be accessible by the public.

Tyler Technologies, a Plano-based company, updated the county's case management system last year. There was a requirement in its contract to delete the images of the court files after six months. Lorentzen said the company has kept the document images since February 2016.

"We consider that a breach of contract," Lorentzen said. "I feel very strongly about being the custodian of all the court records from way back to present. The Texas constitution is very specific about what we do, and so are some other statutes. We feel (Tyler Technologies is) doing this simply for making some money."

Commissioner Mike Pusley said he felt torn on the subject because he feels that providing access to public records is important, but he understands the need for control on how those records are dispensed.

Lorentzen said that 163 counties across Texas have written letters opposing the initiative, and House Bill 1258 was introduced on behalf of district and county clerks to prohibit any kind of action from an outside agency, or state agency, to take authority from county government officials.

Lorentzen said that expunged records or nondisclosure agreements could be made accessible by judges, lawyers and the public through this database, which Commissioner Joe A. Gonzalez opposed.

"That can be a detriment to some people if those records are not kept confidential," Gonzalez said. "I'm concerned about people that have been expunged, and (the records) are made open record. They're going to be in a position where their livelihood is stained with that."

The commissioners voted unanimously to write a single letter to detail their opposition on the three items and to include the three county resolutions. Pusley also suggested a written letter to Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-Corpus Christi; Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi; and Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Robstown.

©2017 the Corpus Christi Caller-Times (Corpus Christi, Texas) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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