Newspaper-Open Records

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

A lawsuit filed by a Mobile newspaper (Register) seeks access to municipal court records that have been expunged since 1988. The paper contends city judges have no authority to erase adult criminal records and keep the public from seeing them.

The suit, filed yesterday, against Mobile Municipal Judge James Lackey and the court's administrator, Pete Pedersen, comes after a Register reporter was denied access to the records.

The journalist was looking for information on Mobile County school board President David Thomas' 1998 arrest on a charge of drunken driving.

The arrest gained attention after Thomas was charged on February
eighth for driving under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene of an accident.

A 1985 attorney general's opinion that states there is no Alabama law "granting municipal courts the power to expunge records."

But an assistant city attorney said the attorney general's opinion does not apply to these cases.

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