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Government Records

Dec 2021

Year of Secret Litigation Ends with Complete Media Victory in South Dakota

Jeremy Kutner

The high court held that a state statute prohibiting the sealing of certain warrant information meant what it said, finding that the question “is not a close one.” But the path to the ruling was far from typical.

Oct 2021

Case Closed: Alabama Supreme Court Guts Open Records Law

J. Evans Bailey

With this ruling, it appears that the media will only be able to access law enforcement records if law enforcement makes a voluntary disclosure, the records are introduced as exhibits at trial, or, possibly, if the case is already closed. The sweeping ruling stands as a high-water mark for government secrecy of law enforcement records…

Oct 2021

Utah Court Rules Journalist Entitled to Names of Lobbyists Hired to Delist Gray Wolf

Jeffrey J. Hunt, David C. Reymann, and Jeremy M. Brodis

The court held that the names of the subcontractors being paid with state funds to lobby for wolf-delisting were not properly classified as protected “trade secrets” or “commercial information,” under Utah’s open records statute, and that in any event the names must be released because the public interest in access outweighs any interests in restriction…

Aug 2021

Pushing Back Against NYPD for Violations of Journalists’ Constitutional Rights

Mickey H. Osterreicher and Robert D. Balin

In a recently filed suit, five visual journalists are suing the NYPD for civil rights violations after each journalist was targeted, beaten, or arrested by NYPD officers while attempting to cover the 2020 George Floyd protests in New York City.

Jul 2021

Obfuscating Mercy: How The California Supreme Court Finally Addressed Secretive Pardons

Selina MacLaren and Thomas R. Burke

The new rule rejects the governor’s decades-old practice of automatically sealing clemency files, but places the onus on the public to move for unsealing.

Jun 2021

The Pentagon Papers 50 Years Later

George Freeman

Fifty years has not definitively resolved the impact and import of the Pentagon Papers case. Was it a monumental victory for the press? Was it a loss, since for the first time the courts imposed a prior restraint on a newspaper? Or was it an inconsequential one-off, since it hasn’t been a precedent for many…

Jun 2021

Social Media Blocking by Government Officials: Where Does the Law Stand?

Lyndsey Wajert

A look at how caselaw has developed since the Knight Institute filed the 2017 complaint against president Trump, and what factors courts consider in challenges to social media blocking by public officials.

Mar 2021

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Fifth Circuit Addresses Growing Concern With Overbroad Sealing Practices

Evan M. Rios

The panel addressed a “peripheral-yet-essential point: Judicial records are public records. And public records, by definition, presume public access.”

Mar 2021

Court Unseals Government Docs in Prosecutor Misconduct Inquiry

Brian Barrett

A New York federal district court ordered the unsealing of government emails, text messages and other documents at the heart of an extraordinary prosecutorial misconduct inquiry involving the elite terrorism and international narcotics unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the SDNY.