Abstract

CLERK FEES: LEGISLATION AND LITIGATION

J. MARLEEN AHEARN

Copyright 1998 Florida State University Law Review

Over the last three regular legislative sessions, the Florida Legislature has attempted to clarify what the clerks of the circuit courts are to charge for copying public records in their custody. However, none of the bills have passed the Legislature. Part II of this Article briefly summarizes certain statutory provisions regulating clerks and the fees that they must charge for making copies. It then details the relevant legislative history, as well as applicable attorney general opinions that have interpreted these statutory provisions. Next, Parts III and IV carefully examine two court cases, one an opinion of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, the other a decision of the Florida Supreme Court. These cases deal in part with the power to regulate public access to court records. Part V discusses three provisions of the Florida Constitution with regard to the cases discussed in Parts III and IV, and in so doing raises serious questions about the cogency of those holdings. Finally, in Part VI, this Article concludes that the authority to set the fees that clerks of the circuit court must charge for copying public records rests in the hands of the Legislature, and that legislation is needed to maintain and preserve public access to those records.

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