Pennsylvania

C. Obtaining transcripts

Overview

Pennsylvania

4. How long should you wait for a response? M4B4

There is no requirement that administrative remedies be exhausted before court proceedings are begun.

1. Relevance of material to case at bar

The Pennsylvania Shield Law provides an absolute privilege against compelled disclosure of confidential source information regardless of a party's "need for the information." Davis v. Glanton, 705 A.2d 879, 883 (Pa. Super. 1997). At a minimum, of course, the moving party may only seek materials that are reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. See Pa. R. Civ. P. 4003.1(a).

a. Definition. M1E2A

A special meeting is a “meeting scheduled by an agency after the agency’s regular schedule of meetings has been established.” An “emergency” meeting is a “meeting called for the purpose of dealing with a real or potential emergency involving a clear and present danger to life or property.” 65 Pa. Cons. Stat. §  703. An emergency meeting requires a true emergency. See, e.g., In re Petition of Board of Directors of Hazleton Area Sch. Dist., 527 A.2d 1091, 1093, n.3 (Pa. Commw. Ct.

2. Does the law cover oral requests?

Agencies may, but are not required to, fulfill “verbal” (presumably meaning “oral”) and anonymous requests. Section 702. If the requester wants to pursue “the relief and remedies” provided by the Act, e.g., receive the required form of agency response and take an appeal from any denial of access, “the request for access to records must be a written request.” Id. While agencies may have the statutory discretion to accept oral requests, it appears that Commonwealth agencies under the control of the governor have been instructed to refuse oral requests.

J. Money-making schemes.

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

E. Grand jury records

Overview

Pennsylvania

c. Partial disclosure of information

Waiver of the Shield Law protections is limited only to the information "actually published or publicly disclosed . . . ." In re Taylor, 193 A.2d 181 (Pa. 1963). Partial disclosure therefore waives the privilege only as to the information actually disclosed.

There is no Pennsylvania case law directly addressing the waiver of the First Amendment reporter's privilege by partial disclosure of information.