Why do you have to be so rude, Fall River?

Massachusetts district court responds to request for unsealed cases with two letters: NO

Written by Caitlin Russell
Edited by JPat Brown

While many government agencies are staffed with records access officers who are more than happy to assist the public, some are seriously committed to keeping those files away from prying eyes.

Enter Fall River District Court.

In the hopes of gaining access to recently unsealed court cases, I filed a request for all motions to unseal (which are presumptively public documents) with Fall River District Court. Although the court is not subject to the Massachusetts Public Records law, there should not have been an issue because the documents are supposed to be public anyway.

Fall River, though, she’s a wily one:

The Fall River City Council has been noted for its opaque approach to public records, and the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office (whose jurisdiction Fall River is under) has been stalling for months to release a single document (out of an alleged 70 pounds of documents) related to a nearly 40-year-old murder case.

This big blunt “NO,” however, is the public records equivalent of leaving a flaming bag of dog poop on a person’s stoop, then flipping them off when the person who answers the door ruins their shoes.

Needless to say, I’ll be following up with the clerk magistrate.

Read the full “NO” embedded below, or on the request page. And let us know your rudest public records experience on Twitter!


Image via NBCUniversal