First Commerce Title Co. Inc. v. Martin was a case before the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal in 2005 concerning the means of copying public records.
This established that individuals have a right to use personal photocopying equipment to copy records within an agencies office, so long as the do not "place" or "install" the equipment.
- In August 2001, an employee of First Commerce Title Company used a hand-held scanner to copy images of documents within the Bienville Parish Courthouse in Arcadia, Louisiana. The clerk of court told the employee he could not use the scanner within the office, pursuant to R.S. 44:32, “which prohibits the use of imaging equipment by others in the Clerk’s Offices”. The section in fact permits the clerk to prohibit the "placement" or "installation" of privately owned copying equipment.
- In November 2001, First Commerce filed suit in circuit court, seeking to have R.S. 44:32 ruled as unconstitutional and seeking to compel the Parish Courthouse to permit them to use the scanners free of charge.
- The district court ruled in favor of the parish courthouse and First Commerce appealed the decision.
Ruling of the court
The district court ruled in favor of the courthouse, stating that the hand held scanners fell under R.S. 44:32 and were thus not permitted in the courthouse.
The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court, ruling in favor of First Commerce.
The Court of Appeals determined that a hand held scanner could be used in an office without it being "placed" or "installed" in that office. Further, the court felt that the policy of openness supported this interpretation of the law. The court finally determined that First Commerce had a right to attorney fees and awarded them accordingly.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ruling of the Court