Court Web site to be reactivated

Published 10:19 pm Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Suffolk Cirrcuit Court will be back up on the Internet within the next three days.

On Tuesday morning, Clerk of Court Randy Carter notified the Virginia Supreme Court that it could reactivate its link connecting users to the Suffolk Circuit Court Web site.

“It will take two or three days to go live again,” he said.

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The site, which includes baisc docket information on criminal and civil cases heard in Suffolk Circuit Court, was taken offline last month after The Virginian-Pilot ran a story pointing out that criminal indictments were often added to the site before the grand jury issued the indictments. Carter said he told the state Supreme Court to remove the Suffolk court from its Web site until he had an opportuntiy to review procedures for adding new data.

Carter’s staff had been putting the pending grand jury indictments into the computer early, largely because the office lacked the staff to enter approximately 120 indictments on the afternoon after a grand jury meets.

That process is going to take longer now, Carter said.

Now, the list of indictments – which have traditionally been made avaailable to the media within hours after the grand jury meeting ended – is being held until the next day to give his staff time to put the data into the computer and post it on the Internet, Carter said.

Also, the courts are not going to hear any cases for at least one week after a grand jury has returned the indictments, Carter said.

Not having access to any of the courts information triggered a lot of phone calls from local attorneys, media outlets and others who use the Web site for information, said Carter. He said he had gotten calls with inquiries about what happened with the Web site from as far away as Texas.