Pennsylvania

3. Electronic meetings. M1D3

(This section is blank. See the subpoints below.)

B. Elements

Since the Pennsylvania Shield Law provides an absolute privilege against compelled disclosure of confidential source information, the predominant issues generally are whether the subpoenaed information is confidential source information and whether the Shield Law's protections have been waived by publication of the identity of the confidential source.

Under the First Amendment privilege, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stated the elements as follows (without actually ruling that there is such a privilege in Pennsylvania):

(1). Agency procedure for challenge. M4B1A1

Not applicable. There is no requirement that administrative remedies be exhausted, or that a formal or informal protest or request be lodged with the particular agency. Such a request would be helpful, however, in developing a record for a court challenge.

c. Plea for quick response.

While nothing precludes a requester from seeking a quicker response, the Act imposes no such obligation on the agency.

F. How are social media postings and messages treated?

Social media postings and messages are presumptively accessible.

c. Minutes. M1E1C

(This section is blank. See the subpoints below.)

b. Disclosure of non-confidential source's name

The Pennsylvania Shield Law does not protect non-confidential source information.

There is no Pennsylvania case law directly addressing waiver of the First Amendment reporter's privilege by disclosure of a non-confidential source's name.

5. Pleading format. M4C05

The manner in which a “legal challenge” is to be initiated is not defined in the Sunshine Act, and it is not clear from the text how specific the grounds for the challenge must be. Thus, the manner in which a legal challenge is initiated, whether by complaint, writ of summons, agreement, “or other traditionally recognized means” is not significant. Tom Mistick & Sons, Inc. v. City of Pittsburgh, 567 A.2d 1107 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 1989), appeal denied, 589 A.2d 695 (Pa. 1990). Appeals under the Right to Know Act may be instructive.

a. Description of records or portions of records denied.

The Act envisions that the appeal must identify the record requested.