News & Resources

Coincidence or Correlation in Yakima, WA?

Most free-speech cases are complicated.  For instance, a case regarding free speech in Yakima, WA rests on the intersection of protection against discrimination and public safety. A local furniture business owner sued the city and several public employees, alleging that the city persecuted him with fire code inspections and violations after he opposed a city plan to replace a parking lot with a downtown plaza. The city argues that the temporal proximity of the business […]

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Does Your State Have an Anti-SLAPP Law? SC Doesn’t

I have posted about anti-SLAPP laws. SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. Often brought by public figures or organizations with greater power and resources, anti-SLAPP lawsuits are filed with the unstated purpose of silencing critical First Amendment rights. The unstated message is: “You don’t really believe this is a case of defamation. You’re just trying to chill my speech in legal fees and red tape.”  Anti-SLAPP laws empower defendants to call the plaintiff’s […]

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Public Records and Accusations of Election Fraud

Since the 2020 elections, public records requests to elections agencies have increased exponentially. Elections officials say that people who believe they will find evidence of voter and election fraud have caused the increase.  Elections officials say the increased workload is a concern and there are instances of threats to election workers. Nonetheless, they are working to meet the need. After all, transparency should help answer questions about election fraud in order to uphold the integrity […]

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Redaction as a Transparency Avoidance Strategy in NJ School District

Have you ever received heavily redacted records from a public agency?  If something seems off about the redactions in a fulfilled request, don’t just sit on your hands. Sometimes, it is worth challenging them. In Monmouth County, NJ, a school district parent filed a lawsuit last summer. The mother had originally become an intense critic of the district after some portable classrooms at an elementary school were deemed unsafe.  Her criticism mounted after a football […]

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Public Records Accountability Comes to a Head in San José

How should you proceed if your city appears to be stonewalling public records requests? Is this a sign of corruption? Mismanagement? Overwhelmed public employees?  Where public records accountability is concerned, there’s no single answer. For instance, in San Josè, CA, the city and mayor have been confronted with a lawsuit brought by the San Josè Spotlight and the First Amendment Coalition for what they allege to be habitual withholding of public records. The lawsuit targets […]

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Filing Public Records Lawsuits to Make a Point in WA

Public records lawsuits—do they aid or undermine democracy?  Sometimes government says public records plaintiffs “have an agenda.” Requestors say, yes, their agenda is to shed light on government operations and at times shed light on government malfeasance.  Sometimes, requestors say government has an agenda to avoid accountability… while government says they must comply with public records law and cannot always release the requested records. A retired schoolteacher in the city of Langley on Whidbey Island, […]

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