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Confidential records plan turned down

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Pointing to a legal-system rule and the state Constitution, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a move by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission to keep some records confidential.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission investigates alleged misconduct by judges and makes disciplinary recommendations to the Supreme Court.

The commission approved changes to two of its rules that would have allowed the commission’s investigative panel and hearing panel to designate certain filings with the Supreme Court to be confidential.

Those filings would have involved such things as medical information.

But the Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously repealed the changes to the commission’s rules, citing the Constitution and a rule of judicial administration dealing with public access to records.

“This (Supreme) Court does not question that the commission’s attempt to protect such sensitive medical and personal information from public view is made with good intentions,” the decision said. “However, this court must repeal the confidentiality amendments because neither the commission nor its panels have authority to designate filings in this court confidential under (the rule of judicial administration) or the Florida Constitution, and the commission does not have authority to adopt a rule of procedure purporting to grant such authority.”