|A few ideas in Gov. Jerry Brown's recent budget proposal would be so damaging to the free flow of information in California that they should be scrapped immediately.
The first is a proposal to charge citizens $10 for virtually every record they look up at a county courthouse. Those records are currently free to access, and they are used by any number of people to ensure that information from legal filings comes to light. Journalists routinely browse through public records for information and background about matters that directly affect residents of cities, counties and the state.
When people sue governments, officials or businesses, major facts about possible malfeasance can be brought to light through the court records. But charging people just to access these records will significantly reduce the number of cases news organizations are able to cover.