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Edgefield County, South Carolina

June 9, 2005

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EDITORIAL

Veteran Judge could take lessons from rookie Clerk of Court

Editorial
web posted June 9, 2005

Edgefield Daily.com asked Edgefield County Chief Magistrate Judge Davis Parkman if he would provide for publication the results of the Edgefield County Magistrate’s Court each week. We had already spoken to staff of the court who willfully admitted such a report was, “easy,” to provide. Judge Parkman stated only specific cases either by name or case number would be revealed. We reminded Judge Parkman that the information and actions of his office is public information and he persisted in his response.

Edgefield Daily.com publishes the arrest reports of the Edgefield County Law Enforcement Center and clearly states that all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty. We feel just as responsible, as a result, to publish how the cases turn out in the judicial process. Just because one is arrested does not imply one is guilty, far from it. Some are dismissed and some are found innocent. Some are found guilty. As a result we seek to continue our efforts to inform the county with full disclosure of all government affairs and the courts are no different.

Clerk of Court Sheryl Newby understands the open records laws of the state and has agreed to provide the results of the Court of Common Pleas to Edgefield Daily.com since it is, in her words, “public information.”

Perhaps our seasoned Judge could take a few lessons from our newly elected Clerk of Court.

We question if the good judge is taking the position towards Edgefield Daily.com due to the unflattering truths revealed in past revelations concerning his court or if he is just blocking anyone who would want to reveal the inner workings of the judicial process at the “common man’s court”. In either event the basic reality of the request is simple, open records means open records.

Already this common man’s court is kept from the common man behind locked doors as a way of “court security”. What “security” is there in a court held outside of the public purview we ask?

Edgefield Daily.com will publish the findings of open court in the Edgefield County Magistrate’s Office. We will also be publishing the Legal Notices and even begin delving into other government agencies in the county including the Department of Social Services.

We hope that Judge Parkman is not taking the temporary position due to personal reasons. That would be a dereliction of his duties and we know being such a well respected Judge he would not do that. But we do not understand his noncompliance of a verbal Freedom of Information Act request as to his reply. The written request is a formality; the question was to what his response would be to such a request.

We will file the necessary request and see if Judge Parkman wants to retain his preliminary response. We know how it should turn out, but we will wait for the reply before continuing.

Edgefield Daily.com spoke to magistrates in several area counties and was told by all such a request would have been met with open arms.

We question why Judge Parkman would take such a contradictory position.



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