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Government Records

Sep 2023

North Carolina Court Holds Records in Possession of Third-Party Contractor Subject to Public Records Disclosure Requirements

Lauren Russell and Kaitlin Gurney

The court also held that even though requestor, Charlotte television station WBTV, received the records before a final ruling on the merits, it was entitled to recover its attorneys’ fees under North Carolina’s public records law mandating fee awards to claimants who substantially prevail in compelling disclosure of public records.

Sep 2023

Washington Post Wins Suit Seeking Disciplinary Records of Former LGBTQ and Community Policing Liaison with History of Excessive Force

Margaret N. Strouse, Maxwell S. Mishkin, and Chuck Tobin

In an important victory for police transparency, DC Superior Court Judge Maurice A. Ross granted the Post’s motion for summary judgment, rejected the District’s arguments for withholding the records under FOIA’s privacy exemption, and ruled that the Post should be awarded its attorney’s fees.

Sep 2023

Colorado Lawmakers Commit to Stop Auto-Deleting Instant Messages with Other Lawmakers

Steve Zansberg

The directive is the first in the nation to expressly prohibit legislators from using so-called “ephemeral messaging” apps when discussing public business.

Aug 2023

FOIA Lawsuit Helps NPR Report On “Barbaric” and “Negligent” Conditions in ICE Detention Facilities

Max Mishkin, Emmy Parsons, and David Bodney

These records were released as the result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in which the court compared the Government’s arguments to “a game of ‘Mad Libs.’”

Aug 2023

Sheriff Ordered to Pay Station’s Attorney Fees After Withholding Recordings of Jailhouse Videocalls Which It Already Had Released

Eric P. Robinson

Judge Toal held that the recordings were public records in possession of a government agency, and thus subject to disclosure under FOIA.

Jul 2023

A Victory for Transparency in Uvalde

Reid Pillifant

More than a year after a gunman killed 19 students and 2 teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, a judge has ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety to release information about the attack and the law enforcement response.

May 2023

Florida Appellate Court Orders Public Release of State Grand Jury Materials from Failed Jeffrey Epstein Prosecution

Nina D. Boyajian and Layal L. Bishara

The Court of Appeal held that courts have inherent authority to order the disclosure of grand jury materials, “despite the traditional rule of [grand jury] secrecy.”

Apr 2023

Significant FOIA Win to Gain Access to MLAT Records on Mexico’s Former Secretary of Defense

Victoria Baranetsky, Dara Gray, and Anise McKinney

Beyond denying the use of a categorical exemption, this case is a unique win because it marks the first time a court has ordered a search of documents when a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty is at issue.

Mar 2023

Courthouse News Service Continues Its Winning Streak

Jack Greiner and Darren W. Ford

Courthouse News secured another victory in its efforts to preserve prompt access to electronically filed complaints, obtaining a preliminary injunction against the Franklin County, Ohio Clerk of Courts barring her office from restricting public access to newly filed non-confidential complaints, and directing her to make such complaints available to the public and press.

Feb 2023

DC Court of Appeals Dismisses Police Union’s Fundamental Right to Privacy Claim Over Body Cam Footage

Sara Benson and Cindy Gierhart

The Court found that the growing consensus regarding a First Amendment right to record police activity in public was incompatible with the alleged fundamental information privacy right asserted by FOP.