AfriGeneas States Research Forum
[TX] Texas AG stalls record-keeping at courthouse
At best the Attorney General's decision will delay courthouse research.......
By MATTHEW WATKINS
A recent Texas Attorney General opinion has created gridlock at the Brazos County Courthouse, prompting the main record-keeping offices to temporarily close the doors early Monday in order to determine how to conduct business without breaking the law.
County Clerk Karen McQueen and District Clerk Marc Hamlin spent much of Monday talking to a prosecutor, state officials and each other about how to carry out Attorney General Greg Abbott's opinion made Wednesday that states government offices cannot disclose Social Security numbers in publicly released documents.
While officials wrestle with how to cope with the requirement that's likely to have a sweeping impact, they caution lawyers, title companies and the other countless people who need to access information from the clerks' offices to be prepared for delays.
Abbott's opinion, which stemmed from questions posed by a prosecutor in Fort Bend County, is his interpretation of the Texas Public Information Act. It means officials now must go through countless documents - hard copies, microfilm and any other type of record kept in their possession for decades - to redact Social Security numbers before allowing the public to see the paperwork. To ignore the requirement could mean jail time.
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