The last time I was in the vault at the Assumption Parish courthouse, I noticed a new sign. Photographing court records is against Louisiana law.
Now this is annoying. The old records that I need are in heavy, hardbound books. I have to lug them over to the copy machine, heave them onto the copy machine and then heave them back off to flip the page and make more copies. By the time I was finished, I was dripping with sweat (I copied a lot of records).
I also was a lot poorer when I left the courthouse. Those Xerox copies are $1 per page. I don’t get paid for my sweat and labor in making them.
I also wondered: Is it really against the law to photograph court records?
Then I went to the Terrebonne Parish Courthouse and saw the same warning.
I did a little Internet research and found this:
A. The clerk of court is the legal custodian of all of its records and is responsible for their safekeeping and preservation. He may issue a copy of any of these records, certified by him under the seal of the court to be a correct copy of the original. Except as otherwise provided by law, he shall permit any person to examine, copy, photograph, or make a memorandum of any of these records at any time during which the clerk’s office is required by law to be open. However, notwithstanding the provisions of this Paragraph or R.S. 44:31 et seq., the use, placement, or installation of privately owned copying, reproducing, scanning, or any other such imaging equipment, whether hand-held, portable, fixed, or otherwise, within the offices of the clerk of court is prohibited unless ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction.
I get it. Clerks of court need to make money. But do they have to drive the family tree researcher into the poorhouse to do it?