Because of a presumed constitutional right of access to court proceedings, journalists usually have found access at courthouses a bit easier to come by than at city hall or the statehouse. That may all be changing.
Recent trends toward secrecy show it's time to do an access checkup on the nation's courthouses. Perhaps audits, patterned after those to gauge compliance with state records laws, may be in order. At the very least, it is time to remind prosecutors, court administrators and judges about their responsibilities to keep courts open.
Call it courthouse creep. Driven by concerns about privacy, revisions of records policies to accommodate online access, parties using courts to find "private justice" and even terrorism, the judiciary seems to be finding a growing number of reasons to close information--usually without challenge or public notice.
THE CASE IS CLOSED
For example, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Karen Branch-Brioso quoted an aide to Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the U.S. District Court for the …