Lawsuit claims court clerk keeps documents from screeners

BENTONVILLE -- A lawsuit claims the Bentonville District Court clerk refuses to provide background screen companies access to records from her court.

The lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners in Pulaski Circuit Court against Jennifer Jones, clerk of Bentonville's district court.

According to the lawsuit, the association is a nonprofit trade group that represents companies offering employment, tenant and volunteer background screening services.

The lawsuit accuses Jones of using her official position to frustrate and threaten the background check process the organization relies on each day. The suit states Jones is relying "on a gross misinterpretation" of an order by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Jones said Tuesday she had not seen the lawsuit and declined to comment.

Jones requires any person seeking individual court records to pay $5,000, complete a compiled records license agreement and obtain a compiled records license from the Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts, according to the complaint.

The complaint states the Arkansas Supreme Court order and compiled records license are to be used for obtaining bulk electronic data extracts for a large number of individuals at once, so it is impossible for background screening companies seeking individual case records to comply with the requirements for obtaining a license.

The complaint states requests for access to court records by association members are governed by the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

The lawsuit seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting Jones from applying the order in a manner that violates association members' rights under the state Freedom of Information Act. The lawsuit wants the court to declare that National Association of Professional Background Screeners members have a right to the records.

The lawsuit is also seeking a monetary judgment for the costs incurred and attorney's fees.

NW News on 07/25/2018