Businesses’, individuals’ and law firms’ requests for public records under the federal Freedom of Information Act comprise more than 75 percent of the annual total, a new study has found, with news media requests representing 7.6 percent, the Columbia Journalism Review reported March 17.
These statistics are from the FOIA Mapper Project, headed by Max Galka, the story said.
Student journalists at Arizona universities, community colleges and public high schools would be protected from censorship under a bill approved March 6 by the state House Education Committee, Capitol Media Services reported in the Arizona Capitol Times.
The panel voted 10-1 to move Senate Bill 1384, which has already unanimously passed the Senate, to the full House.
Read Capitol Media Services’ Howard Fischer’s story here.
Public officials’ use of personal email for government business creates a public record, Calif. high court rules
State and local public employees using personal email or sending texts on personal cell phones about government business are creating public records, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled March 2, the Los Angeles Times reported.
But as the Times’ Maura Dolan reported, the justices offered “only general guidance on where the line would be drawn (between what is in personal accounts that is and is not a public record), posing a challenge for cities and counties forced to balance employees’ privacy against the public’s right to know.”
Read the California Supreme Court’s opinion here.
The First Amendment did not protect a Maricopa County Attorney’s Office employee from being fired after speaking with an Arizona Republic reporter about a pending legal matter, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 23, Cronkite News’ Joseph Guzman reported.
The decision reverses a federal district court judge’s earlier finding that Maria Brandon was wrongly terminated, Guzman wrote.
Read Guzman’s story here.
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.