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Government Records

May 2024

To Seal or Not to Seal—That is the Question

Mackenzie Arnold

The Fifth Circuit vacated and remanded an order from a district court that unsealed a now-settled case allegedly involving revenge porn because the district court applied the incorrect standard for sealing judicial documents.

May 2024

Ohio Supreme Court Brings Curtain Down On Covid Data

John C. Greiner & Darren W. Ford

In a decision that could have far-reaching implications for Ohioans' right to know, the Court held that the Ohio Department of Health must withhold official cause of death information contained in ODH's Electronic Death Registration System from the public.

Apr 2024

Connecticut Supreme Court Reaffirms Public Right to Access Cold Case Records

Stephanie Rice

The Supreme Court of Connecticut issued a ruling of first impression defining the scope of an exception to the state FOIA law allowing police to withhold investigative information “to be used in a prospective law enforcement action” if disclosure would be “prejudicial to such action.”

Apr 2024

D.C. Circuit Reinforces FOIA’s Foreseeable Harm Requirement

Stephen Stich Match

The statute now generally requires agencies to show both that an exemption applies and that disclosure would cause recognized harm. But despite being on the books for eight years, the D.C. Circuit’s ruling is only one of a handful to grapple with the requirement.

Apr 2024

Investigative Reporter Wins Access to California Official’s Calendar Entries

Steve Zansberg

On March 5, Judge Chang issued a Final Ruling, in a case under California’s Public Records Act, granting a Writ of Mandate that commands Governor Gavin Newsom to release the calendar entries of all meetings between his Cabinet Secretary and any representative of Pacific Gas & Electric in May 2023.

Jan 2024

Virginia Media Win Access to Report on School Shooting

David B. Lacy and Harley J. McClellan

The Circuit Court held that the Virginia Freedom of Information Act required disclosure of a school board’s investigation report into a graduation shooting even though a law firm conducted the investigation and prepared the report.

Jan 2024

Ohio Supreme Court Finds Amusement Park’s Private Police Force Is Subject to Public Records Law

Ryan W. Goellner

The television stations’ requests first required analysis of a novel issue under Ohio law: whether a private police department created pursuant to a city ordinance and by agreement between the amusement park and the city was subject to Ohio’s Public Records Act.

Nov 2023

“Unsubstantiated” Complaints About Police Are Not Categorically Exempt from FOIL Disclosure

Alia Smith

New York’s Second Department held that police disciplinary records, formerly shielded from public disclosure under the now-repealed Civil Rights Law Section 50-a, are not categorically exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Law’s privacy exemption.

Nov 2023

Florida Supreme Court Rules Marsy’s Law Does Not Protect Victims’ Names

Daniela Abratt-Cohen and Mark R. Caramanica

The Court’s ruling, which certainly could have taken a narrower path, was not only a victory for police transparency but also a wider victory in beating back overzealous application of Marsy’s Law protections.  

Oct 2023

Colorado Court Holds That Public Officials’ Text Messages on Cell Phones are Public Records

Steve Zansberg

Judge Scoville’s ruling joined numerous other state courts in finding that text messages of public employees housed on personal cell phones are not outside the statutory definition of “public records” merely because they were never transferred to any government entity’s servers for storage and retrieval.