District of Columbia

Judge rules D.C. detective was wrongly punished for speaking to reporter

Lilly Chapa | Newsgathering | News | February 14, 2013
February 14, 2013

A Washington, D.C., judge found that the Metropolitan Police Department’s media policy is constitutional, but how the department enforced it against a detective who spoke out against it to a newspaper in 2009 was unlawful.

District Judge James Boasberg ruled that Detective William Hawkins did not break department rules when he talked to a Washington Post reporter because he spoke as a representative of a police union and not a member of the department.

Judge keeps Chandra Levy post-conviction investigation records sealed

Lilly Chapa | Secret Courts | News | February 7, 2013
February 7, 2013

A Washington, D.C. trial judge declined to explain in a hearing Wednesday why he will continue to keep under seal courtroom transcripts and records regarding an investigation into the 2010 trial of the man found guilty of murdering Chandra Levy.

Former CIA officer Kiriakou sentenced to 30 months in prison for leaking information to reporters

Lilly Chapa | Content Regulation | News | January 25, 2013
January 25, 2013

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou was sentenced today to 2 1/2 years in prison for disclosing an undercover officer’s name to a New York Times reporter in 2007.

Federal judge criticizes immigration agency's response to FOIA request

Monika Fidler | Freedom of Information | News | December 3, 2012
December 3, 2012

Attorneys seeking records from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services hope that a strongly worded opinion released recently by a federal judge criticizing the agency for failing to quickly and adequately respond to a federal Freedom of Information Act request will push the agency to change how it responds to other FOIA requests.

Judge orders unsealing of Watergate documents

Lilly Chapa | Freedom of Information | News | November 7, 2012
November 7, 2012

A history professor hopes that a federal court's recent order to release long-sealed Watergate documents will shed light on the motivations behind the infamous 1972 scandal and help set an example for how to unseal court records.

Appeals Court bars First Amendment nonprofit from intervening in Apple-Samsung case

Rob Tricchinelli | Secret Courts | News | September 20, 2012
September 20, 2012

A federal appeals court earlier this week temporarily resealed exhibits and evidence in a legal battle over smart phones and tablets, staying a trial judge’s order that certain records be released to the public. The court also denied an advocacy group’s attempt to intervene and keep the records open on appeal.

In the highly publicized patent litigation between Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., news organization Reuters America LLC had filed a motion asking the trial court to unseal certain evidence and trial exhibits.

Federal judges weigh public access to visitor logs, protection of sensitive presidential information

Lilly Chapa | Freedom of Information | News | September 18, 2012
September 18, 2012

Federal appellate court judges Tuesday voiced their concerns that releasing White House visitor logs to an advocacy group could release sensitive information held by the president.

“What if the president met with possible appointees to a position?” Circuit Judge Merrick Garland asked. “They would be revealed. Or what about a unique visitor that would be so sensitive that their name alone would reveal why they were there?”

District of Columbia

August 1, 2012

Summary of statute(s): In the District of Columbia, an individual may record or disclose the contents of a wire or oral communication if he or she is a party to the communication, or has received prior consent from one of the parties. The District’s voyeurism law prohibits secretly taking images of people in private settings and distributing them without consent. The District also contains several obscure city rules regulating the activities of commercial street photographers

New general order by D.C. police follows U.S. justice department guidelines for recording police activity

Emily Miller | Newsgathering | News | July 24, 2012
July 24, 2012

The Washington, D.C., chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union dropped a case Monday against the Metropolitan Police Department after the police chief signed a new general order reminding officers that “photography, including videotaping of places, buildings, structures and events are common and lawful activities" in the district.

Government transparency advocates oppose D.C. open records law restrictions at city council hearing

Amanda Simmons | Freedom of Information | News | July 11, 2012
July 11, 2012

Government transparency advocates and the District of Columbia attorney general testified today at a district council hearing regarding three bills that propose various amendments to the district’s open records law.