RTK Law fee schedule doesn't apply to court case files

From the PNA Legal Hotline

By Teri Henning, General Counsel
and Melissa Melewsky, Media Law Counsel

Pennsylvania Newspaper Association

Q: Does the fee schedule for the new Right to Know Law apply to criminal case files in the Magisterial District Courts?

A: No. The fee schedule in the revised Right to Know Law – and the RTKL generally – only applies to “financial records” of the courts, not judicial records filed with courts such as complaints or affidavits of probable cause.

Court records such as those filed in a criminal or civil case are known as judicial records. Judicial records are presumptively public pursuant to the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions, as well as common law. The Right to Know Law, including its fee schedule, does not apply to these judicial records.

Generally, fees for copies of judicial records at the Magisterial District Courts are set by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC). The current AOPC policy sets the maximum allowable copy fee for judicial records at the Magisterial District Judges’ Offices at .25 per page. Some offices charge less.

As stated above, the Right to Know Law does apply to financial records relating to the administration of the courts, e.g., payroll and expense records relating to court operations. This definition does not include records filed with the courts as part of a civil or criminal case.

Pennsylvania Newspaper Association attorneys provide member newspapers with advice on government access issues.