Excellent result for public records law in Massachusetts.

Excellent result for public records law in Massachusetts. "Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman."- Louis D. Brandeis



Governor Patrick signs CORI Reform

The new Criminal Offender Record Information law (CORI) prohibits employers from asking on an “initial written application form” about an applicant’s “criminal offender record information,” which includes information about criminal charges, arrests, and incarcerations. The term “initial written application" in the new text may allow employers to continue to question applicants about felony and certain misdemeanor convictions later in the process. Moreover, the law does not address classic court docket research conducted by investigators.

Real CORI reform

The movement to "reform" CORI by making record sealing easier and restricting public access sounds wonderful. But it ignores the fundamental problem with the database. Those who know public records in Massachusetts understand that CORI--which has never been accessible in full by the public except to those who order their own report--has always been a misleading source of criminal record data. CORI can be difficult to understand and does not contain any case background information. Moreover, it is based on records that have been considered public for decades. A federal judge came close in one case to overturning the CORI law by deeming the information to be essentially computerized records of court dockets, which have traditionally been open public records.

Instead of telling businesses how to hire, we should allow businesses to gather as much information as they deem necessary--many of them routinely make better judgments than elected officials. More to the point: businesses will continue to hire investigators to check public court documents to gather the information they need to run their businesses.