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Freedom of Information
In a prior 1996
case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552, requires government agencies to
honor requests for the booking photographs of criminal defendants who have
appeared in court during ongoing proceedings. Despite that, the U.S. Marshals
Service denied the plaintiff newspaper's request for booking photographs
of Detroit-area police officers indicted on federal charges. The federal
appeals court upheld the denial and overruled the 1996 case, finding that
FOIA Exemption 7(C) protects a non-trivial privacy interest in keeping
"personal facts away from the public eye." Criminal defendants,
the court stated, do not forfeit their interest in controlling private
information while their cases remain pending, and federal regulations and
policies prevented mug-shot disclosure absent a law-enforcement purpose
in such disclosure. Detroit Free Press v. Dep't of Justice, #14-1670, 2016
U.S. App. Lexis 12928, 2016 Fed App. 164P (6th Cir.), 44 Media L. Rep.
(BNA) 2009 (6th Cir.).
A New York trial court, in a decision described as unprecedented as applied to a state or local agency, ruled that the New York Police Department could respond to a state open records request by refusing to either confirm or deny whether records that would fulfill the request exist. This is knwn as a "Glomar" response used to deny a record request and previously had only been allowed in requests to federal agencies for records that involved national security matters. The Glomar exception came in the federal case of the ship the Glomar Explorer, used in an operation to retrieve a sunken Soviet submarine. The refusal to either admit or deny that records of this operation existed was upheld in Phillippi v. CIA, #76-1004, 546 F.2d 1009 (D.C. Cir. 1976), The immediate case involved a request by a Muslim for records concerning alleged police surveillance of him and his mosque. The police department refused to disclose whether such records exist and took the position that, even if they did, they would be exempt from disclosure under a state Freedom of Information law. Disclosing "the existence of responsive records would reveal information concerning operations, methodologies, and sources of information of the NYPD, the resulting harm of which would allow individuals or groups to take counter-measures to avoid detection of illegal activity, undermining current and future NYPD investigations.” Abdur-Rashid v. New York City Police Department, #101559/2013, 992 N.Y.S.2d 870, 2014 N.Y. Misc. Lexis 4114, 2014 NY Slip Op 24271 (Sup. New York County).
A federal appeals court has ordered the release of a redacted copy of a secret Justice Department memo providing a legal argument justifying a 2011 drone attack that killed a U.S. male citizen suspected of being an al Qaeda leader. The court found that there had been a waiver of secrecy and privilege under Exemption 5 of the Freedom of Information Act as to the content of the legal analysis by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC)-DOD memorandum. This was the case because senior government officials assured the public that such targeted killings of U.S. citizens by drones abroad were lawful and that the OLC advice established the legal boundaries within which the government operated. The government had already made public a detailed analysis of nearly all the legal reasoning contained in the memo. There was no longer any logical or plausible way to argue that the disclosure of the redacted memo risked disclosing any military plans, intelligent activities, sources and methods, or foreign relations details. Some other documents were properly withheld because they were "pre-decisional" and informal, and some others were ordered to be submitted to the court for an in camera examination. New York Times Company v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, #13-422, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 11733 (2nd Cir.).
A public interest foundation challenged the denial of its Freedom of Information request for the disclosure of a legal opinion presented to the FBI by the Office of Legal Counsel concerning the legality of certain information gathering techniques. Upholding the denial, a federal appeals court ruled that the document at issue was covered by a deliberative process privilege under an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act, since it was an advisory opinion, recommendation, and deliberation, and those rendering the opinion did not have the authority to establish the "working law" of the FBI. It was also not shown that the FBI had adopted the document as its own reasoning. Electronic Frontier Found. v. Dept. of Justice, #12-5363, 739 F.3d 1 (D.C. Cir. 2014).
The highest court in Maryland has upheld an order requiring the state police to release records the NAACP requested concerning internal investigations of complaints of racial profiling during traffic stops and searches. The records were to be released with the names and identification of individual officers redacted. The court found that, after officers' names, the names of complainants, and all identifying information were removed, the reports were not personnel records or the "records of an individual" for the purpose of any exemption from disclosure under a state public information law. Md. Dep't of State Police v. Md. State Conf. of NAACP Branches, #41-10, 2013 Md. Lexis 15.
Newspapers had no First Amendment right to obtain access to sealed court documents used in connection with the issuance of a search warrant as part of an investigation into financial fraud. There was no historical record of unrestricted public access to documents filed in search warrant proceedings. Further, granting public access to such documents would be detrimental to the search warrant application and process of criminal investigation, particularly when the magistrate sufficiently stated the justification for sealing the documents. In re: In the Matter of the Search of Fair Finance, #10-4139, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 18627, 2012 Fed. App. 0304P (6th Cir.).
A city properly redacted information concerning crime victims and witnesses in various police reports and arrest citations released to the media under a Kentucky state Open Records law. Releasing the home addresses, phone numbers, and driver's licenses of victims and witnesses was covered by an exemption to the law for personal information which, if released, could amount to a "clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." A unanimous state intermediate appeals court ruled that this exception could also be used to redact the names of all juveniles from the requested documents. Kentucky New Era v. City of Hopkinsville, #2010-CA-001742 2012 Ky. App. Unpub. Lexis 299.
A number of Muslim organizations and individuals filed a Freedom of Information Act request that the F.B.I. disclose information concerning investigation or surveillance of them. The trial court's order releasing information that was properly withheld as containing sensitive national security and law enforcement information that should not be made public was overturned. While the government earlier misled the trial court concerning the existence of some documents, that was not a proper basis for an order requiring the disclosure of their contents. Islamic Shura Council v. FBI, #09-56035, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 6481 (9th Cir.).
An exemption in the federal Freedom of Information Act protects "mug shots" from disclosure. Releasing such photos under the Act would violate the personal privacy rights of arrestees depicted. The case involved a man seeking the release of the mug shot of the former president of his own investment firm, who pled guilty to securities fraud. Karantsalis v. Department of Justice. #10-10229, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 4963 (11th Cir.). Editor's Note: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit has previously held, in Detroit Free Press v. Department of Justice, #94-1540, 73 F.3d 93 (6th Cir. 1996), that the release of such mug shot photos does not violate personal privacy rights.
Two groups sued the Department of Homeland Security under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking disclosure of documents they believed might show evidence of government misconduct in the investigation of possible terrorist activities anticipated during the 2004 presidential election and the 2005 presidential inauguration, and specifically the alleged indiscriminate targeting of men from Muslim-majority countries and charging of them with minor immigration violations. A federal appeals court held that the defendant properly withheld portions of a memorandum sought by the plaintiffs under an exemption for "records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records or information would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law." Allan K. Lowenstein Int'l. Human Rights Project v. Dept. of Homeland Sec., #09-2225, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 23924 (2nd Cir.).
A dentist who claimed that he was subjected to excessive force by a sheriff's deputy during a traffic stop sued the sheriff under the state Freedom of Information Act, after he requested information about any internal affairs reports concerning complaints against the deputy. Rejecting the argument that releasing such reports would violate the deputy's right to privacy, an intermediate Illinois appeals court stated that what a deputy does in his capacity as a deputy sheriff "is not his private business." Police internal affairs files, under Illinois law, are public records, regardless of whether or not an investigation indicates that an officer did anything wrong. "That a complaint against a deputy sheriff is 'unfounded' is nothing more than a conclusion of the sheriff’s office: in response to the complaint, the public body investigated itself. If the Act allowed a public body to deny access to complaints that it deemed to be unfounded, defeating the Act would be as easy as declaring a complaint to be unfounded." Some information in the files, however, such as the names of persons filing complaints, can be redacted. Gekas v. Williamson, #4-08-0733. 2009 Ill. App. Lexis 687 (4th Dist.).
The plaintiff, submitting an information request under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552, sought to obtain records of the F.B.I.'s investigation of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, specifically records relating to a legal organization and its founder. After the F.B.I. provided some redacted records, the plaintiff sought permission to depose the convicted bombing conspirator and a death row inmate, asserting that these depositions would produce evidence that government informants were involved in the bombing and that the F.B.I. acted in bad faith in responding to his information request. A federal appeals court ruled that such discovery could not be justified because the evidence showed that the F.B.I. conducted an adequate search for the requested records, and there was no basis to believe that the depositions would result in evidence that other unproduced records existed. Trentadue v. F.B.I., #08-4207, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 14475 (10th Cir.).
A man serving two consecutive life sentences for murder of two F.B.I. agents filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the F.B.I., seeking disclosure of all documents it has concerning him. While the F.B.I. disclosed 70,419 pages of records, it withheld 10,557 pages, contending that they were exempt from disclosure under exemptions to the Act, including those concerning records that "could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy" or "could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source." The trial court, after examining F.B.I. affidavits and a sample of approximately 500 withheld documents, upheld most of the F.B.I.'s actions in withholding the documents. The sole exception was an order directing the F.B.I. to disclose to the plaintiff any documents about a certain individual if they had previously been revealed to other Freedom of Information Act requesters. Upholding this result, a federal appeals court rejected arguments that the trial judge was required to review all withheld documents rather than a sample, and finding that the exemptions at issue were properly applied to bar the disclosure of most of the documents the plaintiff still sought. Peltier v. FBI, No. 07-1745, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 9023 (8th Cir.).
The plaintiff, who participated in a website discussing suicide bombings, among other things, requested documents under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552 concerning copies of any records retained concerning himself. He filed suit claiming that the FBI and CIA withheld relevant records. The trial court granted a motion by the FBI for summary judgment on the plaintiff's claim that it acted in bad faith, but denied summary judgment on his claim that the FBI's search for relevant records was inadequate, since the FBI's affidavit lacked an explanation as to why a search was not conducted using the terms the plaintiff provided in his request. Wiesner v. FBI and CIA, Civil Action No. 07-1599, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 72222 (D.D.C.).
The plaintiff association sought the release, in electronic form, of the names and addresses of all persons holding pistol licenses in the City of New York, with information about police, corrections officers, and government employees deleted, as required by law. While the trial court granted the request, an intermediate New York appellate court reversed, denying it. The court found that the request should be denied because it had been shown that the plaintiff association planned to use the list for an improper purpose of fund raising for itself or commercial gain, as well as its stated purpose of rallying opposition to gun control laws. In re New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, Inc., v. Kelly, 105989/04, 2813, 2008 N.Y. App. Div. Lexis 6784 (A.D. 1st Dept.).
In lawsuit against city by persons arrested during national political convention, court denies city's application to submit a section of a brief and supporting declarations for the brief under seal, ruling that there was a First Amendment right of access to these materials, and the defendants failed to show that there were other factors overcoming that right of access. Schiller v. City of New York, No. 04 Civ. 7922, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis 70479 (S.D.N.Y.). [N/R]
Dismissal of Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by an author, asking for the release of four audiotapes made over 25 years before during an investigation by the FBI of corruption in Louisiana was improper when based on the alleged privacy interests of two individuals heard speaking on the tapes. The court noted that the FBI failed to make reasonable attempts to determine whether those two individuals were living or dead, and that if they were dead, the privacy exemption from disclosure would not apply. "Surely, in the Internet age," the court stated, "a 'reasonable alternative' for finding out whether a prominent person is dead is to use Google (or any other search engine) to find a report of that person's death." Davis v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, No. 04-5406, 460 F.3d 92 (D.C. Cir. 2006). [N/R]
In a Freedom of Information Act request, material which could be withheld from the materials released included the names and contact information for law enforcement personnel involved in a bank fraud investigation, the name of a bank employees, and the name and fax number of certain FBI employees who handled reports of suspicious activity filed by the bank. Voinche v. FBI, No. 04-1824, 425 F. Supp. 2d 134 (D.D.C. 2006). [N/R]
The fact that a private university's police were "special state police officers" or deputy sheriffs, with certain powers granted by Massachusetts state law did not make documents concerning their responses to complaints public records subject to disclosure upon request to a student newspaper. The university was a private entity which was not subject to the disclosure law simply because of the limited powers granted by the state to its police officers. Harvard Crimson Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, 840 N.E.2d 518 (Mass. 2006). [N/R]
Private writings and recordings seized by law enforcement pursuant to a warrant are criminal justice records subject to inspection under a Colorado criminal justice records act. Colorado Supreme Court orders release of tape recordings and writings seized from two high school students who killed thirteen people at Columbine High School. Harris v. Denver Post Corporation, No. 04SC133, 123 P.3d 1166 (Colo. 2005). [N/R]
Information concerning whether or not the plaintiff was listed in a Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) maintained by the FBI was protected from disclosure under a privilege for law enforcement investigatory files. FBI's alleged surveillance of an Israeli native in the U.S. did not violate his First Amendment rights. FBI agents were also not liable for alleged harassment by his neighbors, who were under the mistaken belief that he was Iranian, and when there was no evidence that any FBI agent was aware of the plaintiff's particular political beliefs. Raz v. Mueller, No. CIV 02-5184, 389 F. Supp. 2d 1057 (W.D. Ark. 2005). [N/R]
Names and addresses of reserve deputy sheriffs were public records subject to disclosure under Massachusetts public records law, and the disclosure of the individuals' names and addresses in response to a newspaper request would not be an unwarranted invasion of privacy. Cape Cod Times v. Sheriff of Barnstable County, 823 N.E.2d 375 (Mass. 2005). [N/R]
A privacy exception to New York's freedom of information law applied to tapes and transcripts of calls made to the City's 911 emergency service on September 11, 2001 during the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, and any public interest in the words of the callers was outweighed by the privacy rights of the callers and their surviving family members who wished the content of their calls to stay private. Communications between Fire Department dispatchers and other employees of the Department, however, were subject to disclosure under the law insofar as they contained instructions affecting the public or factual statements. Other portions of those communications were "intra-agency materials" protected from disclosure. New York Times Company v. City of New York Fire Department, 829 N.E.2d 266 (N.Y. 2005). [N/R]
Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel legal memorandum on the issue of the authority of state and local police to enforce immigration laws was not exempt from disclosure under either the deliberative process or attorney-client privilege exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552. National Council of La Raza v. Dept. of Justice, 411 F.3d 350 (2nd Cir. 2005). [N/R]
Information pertaining to police officers and former officers, including names, birth dates, department names, appointment dates, appointment status, termination dates, and reason for termination, obtained by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards from officer personnel records, are exempt from disclosure to a newspaper under the California Public Records Act. While the information did constitute public records which could be made available to litigants in a lawsuit via the discovery process, it was not available to non-litigants via a simple request for public records. Cal. Comm'n v. Super. Ct. of Sacramento County, No. C045494, 2005 Cal. App. Lexis 541 (Cal. 3d App. Dist.) [N/R]
Citizen who was initially improperly denied release of information concerning an investigation of alleged harassment by a sheriff's deputy was also entitled to an award of costs, attorneys' fees, and punitive damages of $500, as well as an order requiring the full release of a redacted memorandum supplied to him by the sheriff. A memo from one non-attorney to another non-attorney within the sheriff's department giving instructions regarding a case file was not covered by attorney-client privilege and therefore was subject to full disclosure under a Michigan freedom of information act. Krug v. Ingham County Sheriff's Office, No. 250111, 691 N.W.2d 50 (Mich. App. 2004). [N/R]
A document concerning two individuals' interview with the FBI concerning the activities of a Lyndon LaRouche-affiliated group, the National Caucus of Labor Committees (NCLC), could be withheld from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552 under an exemption for information compiled for law enforcement purposes if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to reveal the identity of a confidential source. Billington v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, No. Civ. A. 92-0462, 301 F. Supp. 2d 15 (D.D.C. 2004). [N/R]
New York high court orders further proceedings on city's denial of freedom of information law requests for police officer "use of force" forms when the city admitted, during oral argument, that it did not use the type of form sought, but did have incident and arrest reports which might include references to the use of force, which it would be willing to disclose after the removal of certain information. The trial court was instructed to provide direction concerning which documents should be produced and reviewed by the court or a referee before disclosure to the plaintiff, a civil liberties organization. N.Y. Civil Liberties Union v. City of Schenectady, 2 N.Y.2d 657, 814 N.E.2d 437 (N.Y. 2004). [N/R]
Information that civil liberties organization sought under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552, concerning the number of times FBI offices had requested permission under the USA Patriot Act, 50 U.S.C. Sec. 1861, to compel the disclosure of business records sought for authorized investigations of terrorist activity could be withheld under a national security exemption to the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552(b)(1). Disclosure of this information could indicate the FBI's allocation of resources in combating terrorism, which might assist the country's enemies. ACLU v. U.S. Department of Justice, 321 F. Supp. 2d 24 (D.D.C. 2004). [N/R]
Newspaper reporter who sought disclosure, under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552, of documents concerning investigation of FBI agents for allegedly making false statements in affidavits for arrest warrants was not entitled to documents that would not be able to be discovered in litigation, including documents covered by work product privilege, executive privilege, or attorney-client privilege. FBI could exclude from documents to be disclosed the names of employees involved in the investigation or in the subsequent decision-making, based on a law enforcement exemption under the statute. Wood v. FBI, 312 F. Supp. 2d 328 (D. Conn. 2004). [N/R]
Photos of body in a gruesome state following death were exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act's exception for "records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes," 5 U.S. Code §552(b)(7)(C), when their release would resulted in an "unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." National Archives v. Favish, 02-954, 124 S.Ct. 1570, 2004 U.S. Lexis 2546 (2004). [N/R]
The fact that certain records requested by plaintiff under Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552, once existed did not show that they remained in agency's custody or that there was any duty to retain them. CIA fully fulfilled its obligations under the Act, court rules. Wilbur v. C.I.A., #03-5142, 355 F.3d 675 (D.C. Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Audio tapes and transcripts of 911 calls made relating to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center were not exempt from disclosure under New York's Freedom of Information Law, McKinney's Public Officers Law Sec. 87. New York Times Company v. City of New York Fire Department, 770 N.Y.S.2d 324 (A.D. 1st Dept. 2004). [N/R]
FBI had no duty under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552, to attempt to reconstruct and produce documents that had previously been destroyed, and the identities and photos of FBI special agents, suspects, and witnesses in the highly-publicized kidnapping of the plaintiff's mother were protected from disclosure under an exemption for law enforcement information that could constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy. Documents relating to sources of information, which could disclose the identity of a confidential source were also exempt from disclosure, despite the fact that the kidnapping occurred over 30 years ago, when the convictions relating to the kidnapping had been overturned and no other charges relating to the crime had been filed. Information concerning an electronic device used for monitoring purposes was also exempt from disclosure, since revealing the identity of the device used would permit individuals being investigated to take countermeasures to avoid detection. The FBI could not, however, withhold a photo of an allegedly "government-doctored" fingerprint and related material, which the plaintiff asserted meant that the government tampered with evidence in the case. Piper v. U.S. Department of Justice, 294 F. Supp. 2d 16 (D.D.C. 2003). [N/R]
Television station was entitled to disclosure of audiotape of minor's 911 call under a Michigan state freedom of information statute, and was a prevailing party entitled to an award of costs, attorneys' fees, and punitive damages for city's refusal to disclose the audiotape. City's actions, based on the belief that the release would interfere with the minor's right to a fair trial in a pending family division court case charging the minor with voluntary manslaughter for shooting his uncle was arbitrary and capricious. Meredith Corp. v. City of Flint, 671 N.W.2d 101 (Mich. App. 2003). [N/R]
State police department records concerning alleged sexual misconduct of state trooper with female minor who filed federal civil rights lawsuit were of "great public importance" as they involved alleged "misdeeds by public officials," so that newspaper was entitled to release of records, but information identifying the alleged victims, confidential informants, and officers cleared of wrongdoing would be removed first, since the release of such information might have a "chilling effect" on future investigations of sexual misconduct. Haber v. Evans, 268 F. Supp. 2d 507 (E.D. Pa. 2003). [N/R]
Documents in the FBI's Central Records System concerning the requester were exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act under an exemption for information compiled for law enforcement purpose, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552(b)(7)(c). The disclosure of the information sought could cause harassment, or even bodily harm, to third parties, special agents, and local law enforcement personnel involved in the investigation and prosecution of the requester. Additionally, in instances where members of the public could draw an "adverse inference" from the mere fact that an individual is mentioned in a criminal law enforcement agency's investigative files, the agency may respond to a freedom of information request without confirming or denying the existence of the document sought. Taylor v. U.S. Department of Justice, 257 F. Supp. 2d 101 (D.D.C. 2003). [N/R]
Newspaper was entitled to inspect police records relating to alleged police misconduct, including records relating to internal investigation, except for disciplinary letter issued by police chief to officer detailing findings of investigation. Letter was a "personnel record" exempt from disclosure under Massachusetts state public records law, but other documents relating to citizen's allegations of police brutality, including police reports, witness interview summaries, and internal affairs report were not "personnel records" protected from disclosure. Worchester Telegram & Gazette Corporation v. Chief of Police of Worcester, No. 02-P-1632, 787 N.E.2d 682 (Mass. App. 2003). [N/R]
Civil liberties organization was entitled, under New Hampshire state "Right-to-Know" law, to disclosure of consensual photographs of people taken by police after they were stopped by officers but not arrested. Disclosure of photos did not violate individuals' privacy or create any inference about their involvement in crime and no personal or identifying information would be disclosed. Photos would be used for statistical purposes to seek to demonstrate any race or gender-based patterns in police decisions about whom to stop. New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union v. City of Manchester, #2002-177, 821 A.2d 1014 (N.H. 2003). [N/R]
Data collected by police department concerning police officers' traffic stops, conducted as a study to determined whether "racial profiling" was going on, was private personnel data not subject to disclosure under Minnesota statute, since it was collected to evaluate the performance of individual officers and determine whether to possibly reassign, retrain, or counsel them. Star Tribune v. City of St. Paul, No. C5-02-1931, 660 N.W.2d 821 (Minn. App. 2003). [N/R]
Community group was entitled to access to disclosure of city police department records pertaining to civilian complaints of police misconduct, under Rhode Island statute, and trial court could waive costs of retrieval and award group reasonable attorneys' fees. Police chief was entitled however, to exclude Social Security numbers and badge numbers of police officers against whom complaints had been received. Direct Action for Rights and Equality v. Gannon, Nos. 99-22-Appeal, 819 A.2d 651 (R.I. 2003). [N/R]
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemption permitting the withholding of personnel, medical and similar files which would invade personal privacy did not apply to documents including reporter's typed notes of interview with organization members and another document explaining how the notes were distributed to the FBI, since those interviewed knew they were speaking to a reporter, so there was no expectation of privacy. Government could properly remove names and identifying marks of FBI agent and IRS employee from documents requested under exemption for information compiled for law enforcement purposes. Billington v. U.S. Department of Justice, 245 F. Supp. 2d 79 (D.D.C. 2003). [N/R]
Police officers association was not entitled under California's Public Records Act, Cal. Gov. Code Sec. 6252(e), to access to a database of information maintained and compiled by the county public defender's office. The database, composed of information from client files as well as public records was not a public record "related to the conduct of the public's business," but rather served a "private function," that of aiding the public defender in the representation of its clients. Coronado Police Officers Association v. Carroll, No. D039198, 131 Cal. Rptr. 2d 553 (Cal. App. 4th Dist. 2003). [N/R]
Law firm representing persons before a federal grand jury tax investigation and before the IRS was not entitled under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552, to access to a memo prepared by a federal prosecutor and sent to an IRS-created public commission. Documents prepared to help an agency decision-maker in arriving at their decision are exempt from disclosure as part of a deliberative process under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552(b)(5). Additionally, the disclosure of the limited factual material in the memorandum was not required, since it was "too inter-twined" with "evaluative decisions." Tigue v. United States Department of Justice, #01-6243, 312 F.3d 70 (2nd Cir. 2002). [N/R]
Motorists are allowed to obtain operator's manuals for radar devices used by police departments under New York Freedom of Information law. "We are not persuaded," the court stated, "that speeding motorists could use the information contained in these manuals, primarily technical specifications, operational instructions and legal advice on how best to ensure successful prosecution of speeders, to evade detection by police officers using radar equipment." Capruso v. New York State Police, 751 N.Y.S.2d 179 (A.D. 1 Dept. 2002). [N/R]
Federal government was liable for attorneys' fees of journalist requesting FBI documents relating to deceased civil rights activist when the government sought a protective order, failing to first consult with the requester and make a good faith attempt to resolve the discovery dispute before seeking intervention by the court. Campbell v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, 231 F. Supp. 2d 1 (D.D.C. 2002). [N/R]
Police department records which primarily consisted of statistical information concerning the history of law enforcement efforts at certain nightclubs in a number of precincts in the city over a number of months two years previously, were not exempt from disclosure under the New York Freedom Of Information Law, McKinney's Public Officers' Law Sec. 84 et seq These documents were not, for the most part, relevant to any "current or future investigation or prosecution of one of the named nightclubs, other than to provide historical context." Court does hold that any references in the documents to "prospective police activity" should be removed. Council of Regulated Adult Liquor Licenses v. City of N.Y. Police Dept., 751 N.Y.S.2d 438 (A.D. 1st Dist. 2002). [N/R]
Proposed Department of Justice settlement agreement with city concerning investigation of its police department was subject to disclosure under Ohio State Public Records Act, R.C. Sec. 149.43 and was not exempt as a "trial preparation record," or a "confidential law enforcement investigatory record." The document was also not protected against disclosure under any exemption of the federal FOIA, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 551(1), 552(f), since the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to non-federal agencies or officers, and therefore did not apply to public records of the proposed settlement kept by the city. Since there was no reasonable basis for the claimed exemptions, the requesting newspaper was entitled to an award of attorneys' fees. State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Dupuis, #2002-1038, 781 N.E.2d 163 (Ohio 2002). [N/R]
Police department records generated during an investigation of an officer were exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act, Ann. Cal. Gov. Code Sec. 6250 et seq., even if there was no danger of disclosing an informants' identity or revealing investigative techniques, based on the policy concern of ensuring "candid disclosures" during such investigations. Rackauckas v. Superior Court, No. G030680, 128 Cal. Rptr. 2d 234 (Cal. App. 4th Dist. 2002). [N/R]
Personal e-mails sent and received by city employees are not "public records" subject to disclosure under Florida's public records law, F.S.A. Sec. 119.021. Times Publishing Company v. City of Clearwater, No. 2D01-3055, 830 So. 2d 844 (Fla. App. 2d Dist. 2002). [N/R]
Documents concerning an internal investigation of a police officer were exempt from disclosure under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act, MCLA Sec. 15.243(1)(s)(ix), because they were part of the personnel records of a law enforcement agency. Sutton v. City of Oak Park, #229640, 650 N.W.2d 404 (Mich. App. 2002).[N/R]
Newspaper was entitled, under New Jersey Right to Know Law, N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq., to disclosure of transcript of 911 calls concerning confrontation between motorist and officers that resulted in criminal charges against three officers. Newspaper was also entitled, under common law, to release of 911 call tape recordings, but police reports were not to be disclosed under either statute or common law since the potential impairment of an ongoing investigation outweighed the public interest in disclosure. Asbury Park Press v. Lakewood Township Police Department, 804 A.2d 1178 (N.J. Super. L. 2002). [N/R]
Plaintiff's failure to exhaust available administrative remedies on the denial of its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents relating to the FBI's automated system called "Carnivore" for surveillance of internet communications warranted dismissal of its lawsuit under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 552(a)(6), since it did not file an administrative appeal. The plaintiff's failure to pay fees imposed by the FBI for processing requested documents also constituted a failure to exhaust administrative remedies, precluding the lawsuit. Judicial Watch, Inc. v. FBI, 190 F. Supp. 2d 29 (D.D.C. 2002). [N/R]
Personnel records of police officers who would offer expert opinions in lawsuit on the alleged excessive use of force were not privileged from discovery under the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act, W.Va. Code 29B-1-1 et seq. or under state police regulations concerning the confidentiality of personnel files. The records also were not privileged as law enforcement investigatory materials or as official information. Rollins v. Barlow, 188 F. Supp. 2d 660 (S.D. W. Va. 2002). [N/R]
Records of internal investigations of police officers against whom civil or criminal complaints had been filed were shielded from a freedom of information act request under West Virginia state law based on an "invasion of privacy" exemption applicable to the records. Manns v. City of Charleston Police Department, No. 28743, 550 S.E.2d 598 (W. Va. 2001). [2002 LR Mar]
347:170 Newspaper was entitled to access to most discovery documents in settled lawsuit claiming that police officer committed sexual crime against a woman and police department had a policy of inadequate training, supervision and discipline of officers engaged in repeated acts of misconduct; public interest in preventing police misconduct outweighed any benefit of keeping the documents confidential, as long as personal information such as social security numbers, addresses, and medical records were excluded. Doe v. Chicago Police Officer E. Marsalis, 202 F.R.D. 233 (N.D. Ill. 2001).
326:19 Publishing company was not entitled to an injunction against statute placing restrictions on the release of and use of information concerning the names and addresses of arrestees, which provided that such addresses could not be used for the sale of any products or services; statute on its face did not restrict commercial speech, but merely regulated the release of information in the hands of law enforcement. Los Angeles Police Dept. v. United Reporting Publishing Corp., #98-678, 120 S. Ct. 483 (1999).
302:23 Arrestee's open records request for 180 hours of taped 911 calls was overbroad and therefore unreasonable; sheriff properly denied request when arrestee failed to more narrowly identify information that he sought. Schopper v. Gehring, 565 N.W.2d 187 (Wis. App. 1997).
266:27 Criminal investigation files were still active and exempt from disclosure under Florida state law so long as they were "proceeding in good faith" Barfield v. City of Ft Lauderdale Police Dept, 639 So.2d 1012 (Fla App. 1994).
271:103 Indiana state law required police department to reveal to the public the specific addresses at which serial rapist committed his crimes, even though, since he attacked persons in their homes, this would reveal sex crimes victims' home addresses Post-Tribune v. Police Dept, City of Gary, 636 N.E.2d 181 (Ind App. 1994).
Connecticut Freedom of Information Act does not require city police department arrest reports to be disclosed by police to public while criminal prosecution is pending, except for identifying information Gifford v. Freedom of Information Commission, 227 Conn 641, 631 A.2d 252 (Conn 1993).
Interest of family of deceased woman in tapes of calls to police emergency number outweighed possible chilling effect on citizen calls of having court-designated master listen to them Payne v. Grand Rapids Police chief, 443 N.W.2d 481 (Mich App. 1989).
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