Under Alabama law, records of the office of the probate judge are “public writings” under Ala. Code § 36-12-40, and as such, are “free for examination by all persons, whether interested in the same or not.” Holland v. Eads, 614 So. 2d 1012, 1015 (Ala. 1993) (citing Kernells v. Ezell, 282 So. 2d 266, 268 (Ala. 1973)).
The Supreme Court has not addressed whether probate records are presumptively open, but lower courts have extended a presumption of access. For example, the court in In re Estate of Campbell, 106 P.3d 1096, 1105 (2005) held that “[a]lthough we have never expressly held that probate proceedings are accompanied by a presumption of openness, the reasons underlying openness in the criminal context … are equally compelling in the civil context, including probate proceedings.” And the court in Copley Press, Inc. v. Superior Court, 63 Cal. App.