Mississippi Electronic Courts, or "MEC", is currently in a pilot period, as I have blogged about before. During this pilot project, only Madison County Chancery is online. That's handy, as one of the most talked about cases in Mississippi is currently pending there: the divorce case of Pickering v. Pickering.
A funny thing happened today, though. I went to check the docket, and MEC acted as if Pickering v. Pickering didn't exist. The case is currently under seal, but in the past the docket had been available. For the non-lawyers out there, a docket sheet is nothing more than a list of court filings related to a case. That means we could read the titles of the filings, but we couldn't actually read the contents of them.
Digging around, I found that Section 5(A)(2) of the MEC Administrative Procedures states that "Only court personnel will be able to view docket entries and documents in sealed cases."
I've got a problem with this.
If the docket itself is sealed, how is the public to know whether or not the Court has complied with its obligations under Gannett River States Pub. Co. v. Hand, or that a case even exists in the first place?
Although I don't think this result was intended, I do believe that this rule is dangerous to an open court system, and needs to be revisited. The recent spate of sealed cases is doing enough damage to our public's faith in the judicial branch. Let's at least keep the dockets public.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I was able to check the docket over here in Hinds County, where we love freedom, seek truth, and keep our dockets available to the public even when the case is sealed. (Just joshing you, Madison County.) I can report that there's no entry on the Pickering v. Creekmore docket since the issuance of the deposition subpoenas back in July.
***You can read our previous posts on the Pickering mess (both the divorce and the alienation case) here, including the post that started it all.***