Code of Judicial Administration

CJA 03-0404. Public information program. Amend. Clarifies the purpose of the public information program.
CJA 04-0202.08 Fees for records, information, and services. Amend. Adjusts the fees for Xchange to include downloading documents. Adds a per-use fee for those who do not subscribe.
CJA 04-0701. Failure to appear. Amend. Clarify that the bail increase applies to each case rather than to each charge in the case.

Utah Courts

View more posts from this author
17 thoughts on “Code of Judicial Administration
  1. Michael A Jensen

    I object to the fee being proposed pursuant to CJA 04-0202.08(6)(A)(iv) in the amount of $2.50 for each document accessed.
    If the Courts want to move to electronic filing and electronic accessing, $2.50 for each and every document accessed for subscribers is outrageously high. A price per page would be a better way to charge, and such price should be no more than $.10 a page like the Federal System.
    The price proposed is so high that I would just wait until the next time I am at courthouse and have the clerk pull a copy of the document at $0.25 a page. May documents, especially orders, comprise only 1-2 pages. Paying $2.50 for a copy of a 1-2 page order is unreasonable.

  2. Lloyd Call

    Our newspaper received a letter from AOC regarding the XChange website, stating that media organizations would no longer receive a waiver of fees for using the website. We cover the news of Sanpete County with a staff of only four, so we all wear a lot of hats. We need all the help we can get to get important news into the hands of our readers. Having free access to legal information is critical. I urge you to permit media (local newspapers, etc.) to have access without paying the $30/month fee. We just cannot cover the news properly if access fees are part of the process. $360 a year is too much for us, at least.
    Thank you for your consideration
    Lloyd Call, associate publisher
    Sanpete Messenger newspaper

  3. Cimaron Neugebauer

    My name is Cimaron Neugebauer. I am news editor for the student run newspaper The Signpost for Weber State University. Last year, I took full advantage of the Utah State Court’s Xchange system in a two-part investigative series involving felons working in higher education. This investigation spanned seven months and included searching more than 1,400 names of employees at WSU. For accuracy I had to be diligent in viewing the actual dockets for cases. I did this whole project at no cost from the online service because our news organization had complementary access. I use this situation to illustrate the harm of Rule 4-202.08 would pose to student journalism.
    Upon receiving the Jan. 15 letter from Utah State Courts about the rule, I was very displeased to note an omitted, yet crucial part of the agreement on the letter sent to media organizations. According to the full detail of Rule 4-202.08, numerous changes were made which were not included in the letter. It was not listed that on top of a $.10 per search charge for searches over 200, there would also be a $2.50 charge for every time a document was accessed or the actual docket was opened for viewing purposes.
    These changes impact our higher education organization in many ways.
    If I were to do the exact same project with this new rule implemented it would cost me $120 (@$.10 per search) for searching 1,400 names in addition to the initial 200 searches provided. There would be a one-time setup fee of $25 plus a monthly $30 charge for membership. This is already going well beyond the range my student paper would allow me to spend on a story, or I would be able to personally spend to complete a story. However, it gets exponentially worse once I start looking at the dockets. Multiply 1,400 dockets to be searched @ $2.50 per access and now the total is about $3,500. Now we add the membership I would need to accomplish this project over the 7 months it took, $235 including the start-up fee.
    In total, this same project which exposed at least eight felons working at Weber State University, which I was able to do for no charge before would now cost me nearly $4,000. This cost estimate is a low-ball representation of the financial impact because these figures are only including a one-time search. In order to give accurate information a reporter would usually need to open a docket multiple times to fact-check and review dispositions, thus multiplying the fees yet again.
    The cost implications for doing an investigative series substantially hinders organizations from checking court dockets on an ongoing basis to keep current on an individual case.
    As a watchdog for government agencies, we should not be discouraged to do investigations based on financial limits. To keep government transparent this rule change is unreasonable, at best, for a large news media organization and insurmountable for college newspapers.

  4. Lana Creer-Harris

    To Whom It May Concern:
    I am the Editor of the Spanish Fork Press, a weekly with readership in Spanish Fork, Salem and agricultural areas in South Utah County. I have used XChange in the past and it is a useful tool. I have a loyal readership of a few thousand. Denying a fee waiver to a paper like mine denies my readers their right to know.
    I can’t afford the $30 a month and so much per copy fee just imposed by the Ut Courts for XChange users.
    How is a small paper like mine going to access this information? We can’t afford $360. We only use the service once or twice a month.
    Lana Creer-Harris

  5. Connie Coyne

    Setting up a fee structure for the media to gain access to court records undermines the very nature of government in the sunshine. The media need access to the records to craft news stories. The public should always have free access to this information. The proposed fee schedule would test the mettle of newspapers — already floundering in tough economic times. It would also strain middle and low income individuals from having access to this information. The proposal needs to be thrown out.

  6. Jeff Barrus

    Charging fees for media organizations to access Xchange is particularly onerous for small newspapers like ours. We serve the public’s interest in reporting on crime in the communities we cover, but we do so on a shoestring budget. At a time when our industry is beset by rising costs and declining readership, curtailing our ability to report on crime will not only hurt our newspaper, but will also leave our readers lacking vital information and harm the cause of public awareness of the justice system generally.

  7. Nancy Volmer

    As the public information officer for the Utah State Courts, I receive approximately 1,200 media calls each year. Most of these calls are asking for updated case information which has not been updated on Coris and thus XChange. My concern with this rule change is that the number of calls not only that I receive, but clerks/judicial assistants as well, will dramatically increase. In addition, XChange is a tool the media use for accurate reporting to the public. If media can not afford to subscribe to XChange and access case information, the information the public receives could diminish. The current system, which waives the XChange subscription fee for news gathering purposes, ultimately provides the public greater access to information and helps build public trust and confidence in the courts.

  8. Lisa Church

    Re: CJA 04-0202.08
    I am the editor of The Times-Independent in Moab. I strongly urge you to continue offering X-Change fee waivers for media, particularly small weekly publications that cannot otherwise afford the subscription and/or access fees proposed in this revision of the code. Access to court documents is vital to enable our newspaper to fulfill our mission of keeping the public informed.
    For weekly newspapers, which generally use the service infrequently but rely upon it when the need arises – particularly to access information about crimes committed in jurisdictions in other parts of the state– being granted free access to X-Change is an invaluable resource.
    Lisa Church

  9. Maria Titze

    I am the managing editor of KSL-TV. We recently received a letter outlining the new fee arrangement for access to XChange. These fees consist of $25 registration fee and $30 per month for the first 200 searches and then $0.10 per search over 200. Access to court information is a vital part of reporting accurate information to the public. The Utah Government Record Request form (or GRAMA Request) allows a waiver of copy costs because “releasing the record primarily benefits the public rather than a person.” The use of XChange by the media “benefits the public.” Even if a total fee waiver is not possible, the $0.10 per search fee is too burdensome. A recent KSL investigative report on judicial sentences would have cost hundreds of dollars because of the vast number of XChange searches needed for research. If these fees are imposed, reporters and news producers be much more likely to call and get the information from the court’s public information officer, court clerks or judicial assistants to save money. Waiving the XChange fee for the media provides access to the courts with minimal bother to court employees.

  10. Greg Hoole

    Dear Honorable Justices of the Utah Supreme Court:
    I respectfully oppose the $2.50 fee being proposed to download documents from XChange pursuant to CJA 04-0202.08(6)(A)(iv) as well as any fee that discourages attorneys to search for and gather documents online.
    As I understand it, allowing attorneys and others to access documents online does not create any additional burden for court staff, as all documents are to be scanned in any event. Rather, it saves court staff a great deal of time that would otherwise be spent pulling files so that people can copy relevant portions of court records.
    We should be encouraging people to access these records online by charging a lesser fee than what they would incur if they burdened a court clerk to accomplish the same thing. If a fee is to be charged, I would suggest that $.10 per page (closer to the nominal fee charged by federal court) would be more reasonable. The documents most often needed by attorneys are signed copies of orders, which often consist of just a few pages. It does not seem reasonable to charge a flat rate of $2.50 for two or three pages that can be downloaded without the assistance of any court staff.
    Greg Hoole

  11. Jennifer Weaver

    I am the Bureau Chief of the Cedar City Daily News – a product of The Spectrum – and I am opposed to the charge of fees to download documents that are public record.
    I believe unnecessary fees stifle the free flow of information and is a form of censorship, though ever so slight, for those entities who cannot afford to pay such charges – particularly in this strained economy and rural areas like Southern Utah that has limited resources.
    Nadine Strossen, president of the American Civil Liberties Union in 2005, said “The first prerequisite for protecting your rights is knowing them.”
    Access to such important documents, like court documents, assist members of the media to inform the public of their rights, potential violations and any other pertinent information essential to representative government in this Republic.
    I further express my opposition of an instituted fee structure for Xchange with another quote by the editor of USAToday, Kenneth A. Paulson from 2006: “In an era of government secrecy, constitutional conflicts and polarized politics, the job of America’s free press has arguably never been tougher – or more important.”
    Please don’t make it more difficult than it has to be for people to access records. It is simply contrary to the people’s right to know.
    Jennifer Weaver

  12. Shaune

    Do we need to increase fees to access information. It should be easier and more efficient than ever to to access information.

  13. Renai Bodley

    As News Director of Fox 13 News, I respectfully request XChange fees NOT increase. Our assignment editors, reporters and producers check XChange frequently through the day. If this becomes too costly, we will instead call the public information officer, clerks/assistants of the court to request information. This will become burdensome for both court employees and journalists.

  14. Terry Lee

    Another tax increase that I didn’t vote for. I wish the people had representation in govt agencies for fee (tax) increases. How can you keep doing this to us? Now we have to charge our clients an increase for this information. Wrong wrong wrong.

  15. Andre S.

    I agree with all of the previous comments. You are going to put a greater burden on court staff in just about every county in Utah. You are also going to stifle the free flow of relevant information to the public. If this change is being looked at as a way to increase revenue, I doubt it will succeed. As a small newspaper, we cannot afford the $360 a year for the service. So we will have to call the various agencies to get the same information that is currently being provided for free, and those clerks aren’t going to like it. Please give up on this idea of initiating/raising fees on media outlets. Thank you for your time. — Editor, Uintah Basin Standard

  16. Allison Barlow Hess

    As the president of the Utah Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, I am writing on behalf of the board and its members. We wish to express our opposition to the subscription and user fee currently under consideration for use of the court records system, XChange.
    We believe the proposed charge violates both the spirit and the language of the Utah’s Government Records Access Management Act, GRAMA, which was written to “promote the public’s right of easy and reasonable access to unrestricted public records.”
    Journalists around the state in organizations small and large use XChange on a daily basis, as an incredibly valuable reporting tool to bring information about the court and its proceedings to the people of the state.
    Organizations that cannot afford a monthly subscription or the substantial per page cost will use valuable court resources as they ask court personnel to provide the information that was once readily available to them online.
    The fees provided for in GRAMA were established to cover the cost of copies or reasonable personnel costs required to search for records, but this is not the case with the proposed charges for XChange. The court bears no additional expense to allow reporters access to online information, once it has already been posted. This change, in essence, becomes a tax for public information.
    While many of the largest newspapers use XChange on a daily basis, some of the smaller newspapers might not have need to use it for a period of time, and yet they would have to pay their monthly subscription rate, so they are paying just for the right to have access at some point to a public document that exists and should be readily available.
    Journalists use the information as a public service; their stories are immediately posted online and freely and easily accessed by all citizens of the state or the world. We ask that the courts continue in the spirit of open records and continue the past practice of allowing news organizations and educational groups free access to public court records.

  17. Ben Winslow

    As a news reporter who frequently covers the courts, I would urge the courts to NOT increase a fee for use of XChange. It would create an undue burden on information that is, and should remain, a matter of public record.
    It is already difficult to get information out of some of the district courthouses. In some cases, I have quite literally had to drive hours to obtain a document or pester a court clerk to get the information on the outcome of a hearing that I could not attend. Having a public information officer has been helpful, but making XChange cost-prohibitive would inundate her and the already burdened clerks with requests for information that, if kept free, would be easily accessible myself.
    If the Utah State Courts were to look toward a pay-based model, then it should implement a PACER-type program where all court filings are downloadable as a .pdf by members of the public at a reasonably affordable cost. Thus saving all of us a 3 hour trip.