Best Bureaucrat - 2010
No small matter, balancing the public's right to a free and open judiciary against the privacy rights of the litigants who play within its courtrooms. But Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons has spent much of his public career trying to strike that balance. On July 26, he made court records available over the Internet, initially releasing more than 13 million images to the public. Currently the dockets of 10 criminal courts, eight civil courts and all seven family courts can be viewed online. Documents for the remaining courts will be available by year's end. This may be a boon to the media but not so much to those litigants who object to public disclosure of private matters. To assist in these privacy concerns, individuals can request that their Social Security numbers be redacted from documents and certain records—those not required by law to remain public—may be restricted. Lawyers and the media will have access to all documents save those sealed or made confidential by law. Tricky business, maintaining some semblance of privacy in an electronic world. But Fitzsimmons seems bent on trying to get it right.