News & Resources

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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Can a Court Squelch Public Statements by a Criminal Defendant Before Conviction?

Long-time Republican political operative, staunch Trump supporter, and self-described “dirty trickster” Roger Stone has never been one to hold his tongue in the face of controversy. Even in the wake of criminal indictment on five counts of making false statements, one count of obstructing an official proceeding, and one count of witness tampering, he betrayed no sign of avoiding the spotlight. In response to colorful public proclamations of his innocence, the federal judge hearing his […]

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Florida Supreme Court Decides Not to Weigh in on Release of Parkland Shooting Surveillance

When a tragedy like the Parkland shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School occurs, there tend to be two schools of thought where the release of information is concerned. On the one hand, Florida’s Public Records Act protects the rights of citizens and news organizations to access certain kinds of evidence and information to monitor how well government is functioning. On the other, governing and investigative bodies often have a vested interest in withholding some of […]

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FIU Bridge Collapse: Do Public Records Stop Being Public Records When There’s an Investigation?

The FIU bridge collapse this past March was a terrible tragedy. Investigators are still trying to piece together what happened to prevent another such occurrence in the future. As a part of this, FDOT has been working with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), providing them with documentation regarding the construction of the bridge. While those two organizations have been conducting their investigation, the press has been reporting on it and updating the public on […]

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