|The Connecticut court system will usher in the new year by moving required public notices to its website and out of newspapers, citing lower costs and the potential to reach a wider audience.
Media representatives, however, believe the move will result in fewer residents being informed of important legal matters and will be another blow to news companies already dealing with huge declines in revenues. A single public notice can cost a few hundred dollars to run in a newspaper.
It's a concept that's been debated by government officials across the country, but so far one that appears to have gained little traction amid opposition by newspapers.
“State government’s thirst for keeping information out of the public hands knows no bounds," said Chris VanDeHoef, executive director of the Connecticut Daily Newspapers Association. “Every branch of government in our state should be focused on getting information that is pertinent to the citizens of Connecticut out in as many places possible — not fewer.”
The Connecticut Judicial Branch has set up a legal notices section on its website that will go live on Jan. 2, when it ends the requirement to publish them in newspapers.
“It is expected that this will save a great deal of time and expense, and provide greater accuracy and broader notice than newspaper publication," the Judicial Branch said in a statement on its website announcing the move.
Most of the notices at issue are intended for people involved in civil and family court cases, usually defendants, who cannot be located because their current addresses are unknown. While a good portion of the publishing costs are paid for by litigants, the Judicial Branch foots the bill for a large number of people who cannot afford it, officials said.