After similar legislation died in the state House of Representatives last year, a state senator is sponsoring a bill that would allow public officials to declare a request for public records as “unduly burdensome or harassing” and therefore deny it.
Capitol Media Services’ Howard Fischer reports in the Arizona Capitol Times that “(t)he proposal by Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, leaves in place existing requirements for records to be open to public inspection. And it spells out that those who are denied access can sue and recover their legal fees.”
Dan Barr of Perkins Coie P.A., counsel to the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona Inc., is quoted in the story as saying his reading of current law gives government officials the option of seeking a court order in such “extreme instances,” Fischer reported.
The bill, SB1019, does not define what constitutes “unduly burdensome or harassing” requests.
Arizona must let all of an execution be viewed by witnesses, a U.S. District Court judge ruled Dec. 21, The Associated Press reported. Judge Murray Snow’s decision says the viewing must include any time drugs are administered to the condemned inmate, The AP reported, “marking a partial legal win for a coalition of news organizations that filed suit over secrecy surrounding lethal injections.”
Saying that Arizona journalists have a qualified privilege to refuse to surrender their notes, state appellate judges ruled in favor of an Arizona Republic editor, the Republic reported, in a case pitting the First Amendment right of a free press against a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial.
The Arizona Court of Appeals turned down arguments that the reason the editor’s notes are needed is to aid in the defense of murder suspect Gary Thomas Moran, whose lawyers said he might face the death penalty, the Republic‘s Michael Kiefer reported.
Overturning a lower court decision for Moran, the appellate judges found in favor of John D’Anna, a Republic editor who is vice president of the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona Inc. One of D’Anna’s attorneys in the case is fellow coalition board member David Bodney, a partner in the Phoenix firm of Ballard Spahr, LLP.
Read The Republic‘s Michael Kiefer’s story here.
The case number is No. 1 CA-SA 16-0096.
Federal judge dismisses defamation action filed against ProPublica, Center for Investigative Reporting
“A federal district judge in Phoenix threw out a lawsuit on Monday (July 25) that accused ProPublica and the Center for Investigative Reporting of defaming a government contractor who helped a Chinese national gain access to a counterterrorism center.”
Tucson media outlets each receive $1,171 bills for public records in inquiry about supervisor’s former staffer
Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller has given a $1,171.80 public-records bill to each of two media outlets seeking to know whether a former staffer of Miller’s “was involved in the creation of a short-lived and dubious news site,” The Arizona Daily Star reported June 8.
Read Star reporter Joe Ferguson’s story here.
Members of the Pima Community College Governing Board in Tucson are asking for an independent examination of the college’s compliance with state public records and open meeting laws, the Arizona Daily Star reported May 22.
The story quotes First Amendment Coalition of Arizona attorney Dan Barr, a lawyer with the Phoenix firm of Perkins Coie, L.L.P., who
told the Star that the college’s average time of three weeks to fulfill public records requests is evidence of a “flagrant violation” of the Arizona Open Meeting Law.
New laws declare Arizona college campuses as free-speech zones, penalize preventing access to certain public events
Two new state laws, one designating all Arizona public college and university campuses as free-speech zones and another providing penalties for blocking access to such events as campaign rallies or public hearings, The Arizona Republic reports.
Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bills May 16. Read The Arizona Republic story about HB 2615 and HB 2548, which go into effect in August.
The First Amendment Coalition of Arizona and the Phoenix chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists have issued statements opposing Arizona House Speaker David Gowan’s new policy preventing reporters from continuing to work on the House floor until they agree to unprecedented background checks.
ad been asked this week to authorize background checks of their criminal and driving histories and ‘other public records’,” Arizona Republic reporter Richard Ruelas reported April 8. Reporters refused to submit to the checks and have since been covering House sessions from the balcony gallery, Ruelas reported.
- Read Ruelas’ full story here.
- Read The Arizona Republic‘s April 8 editorial, “Reporters unmasked Arizona’s House Speaker, so they had to be punished,” here.
- Read “Don’t chain Arizona’s watchdogs,” an April 8 My Turn column by Amanda Ventura, president of the Valley of the Sun
chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ is a charter member of the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona) here.
- Read Capitol Media Services reporter Howard Fischer’s story of his interview with First Amendment Coalition of Arizona attorney Daniel Barr, published in the April 9 Arizona Daily Sun, here.
- Read Barr’s letter to Speaker David Gowan regarding the House’s new policy here.
- Read KTAR-FM/The Associated Press April 11 account of Barr’s letter to Gowan here.
- Read the (Prescott) Daily Courier‘s April 9 editorial opposing the policy here.
- Read the Arizona Daily Star’s April 10 editorial opposing the policy here.
A federal judge heard arguments April 7 from attorneys representing the state Department of Corrections and five death row inmates and the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona over whether to lift a ban on controversial drug used in lethal injections of condemned inmates, The Arizona Republic reported.
Read the Republic’s Michael Kiefer’s full story here.
A judge has ruled that none of the text messages recovered from of Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump’s cell phone is a public record, Capitol Media Services’ Howard Fischer reported March 25 in the Arizona Daily Star.
After examining several hundred text messages that Stump deleted from a state-owned cell phone, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner said only 36 of them occurred within dates sought by Checks and Balances attorney Dan Barr, Fischer reported.
Unrelated to this matter, Barr, of the Phoenix law firm of Perkins Coie, LLC, is also counsel to the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona.