Local Tex. corruption case moves along, but off the books

Kathleen Cullinan | Secret Courts | Feature | August 7, 2008
August 7, 2008

A long-simmering federal inquiry into public corruption in El Paso, Tex. has apparently yielded nine guilty pleas so far. Local attorneys, elected officials and judges have been swept up in the probe. Dozens of search warrants have been served, thousands of dollars seized.

Wiretap surveillance alone lasted two years.  

Texas journalist detained over oil spill photos

Kathleen Cullinan | Newsgathering | Quicklink | July 29, 2008
July 29, 2008

A photographer with a Texas newspaper was detained Monday for 45 minutes after he refused to show police his pictures of workers tending to an oil spill, the Galveston County Daily News reported.

Football coach will appeal dismissal of libel suit against newspaper

Stacey Laskin | Libel | Quicklink | July 9, 2008
July 9, 2008

A Texas high school football coach says he will appeal a libel suit dismissed by the state appeals court last month.

Coach Mark Zimmer, of  Jacksonville High School, sued Scott Tyler, the sports editor of the Palestine Herald-Press, after Tyler wrote that the coach had made an obscene gesture at a 2006 game.

The appeals court held that the editor was merely expressing an opinion in calling Zimmer's action "obscene." Opinion speech is protected under the First Amendment.

Photographer acquitted of charge of interfering with arrest

Jennifer Koons | Newsgathering | Quicklink | May 15, 2008
May 15, 2008

 A jury acquitted former Galveston County Daily News photographer Nick Adams on Wednesday, more than a year after he was charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly interfering with police by refusing to stop taking pictures of an arrest during the city’s Mardi Gras festivities.

Adams, now with the Appeal-Democrat [Marysville] in Northern California, was arrested in February 2007 after a League City, Texas, police officer told him to stop taking photographs.

Texas judge to decide about deleted e-mail messages

Alanna Malone | Freedom of Information | Quicklink | March 11, 2008
March 11, 2008

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is claiming exemption from the Texas Public Information Act after deleting hundreds of thousands of e-mail messages from employees’ computers. 

The mass deletion began two days after KTRK (Channel 13) aired an interview regarding Sheriff Tommy Thomas’s payment to a contractor for redesigning of the sheriff’s weekend home.

Court rules state employee birth dates are public

Freedom of Information | Feature | January 18, 2008
January 18, 2008

Jan. 18, 2008  ·   Birth dates of state employees are public records and not exempt from disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act, the 3rd District Court of Appeals in Austin ruled on Thursday.

The state comptroller's office tried to withhold the records, arguing that releasing such information would intrude upon the employees' private affairs and could leave them open to identity theft.

Cornyn announces open government proposal

Jennifer Koons | Freedom of Information | Quicklink | January 16, 2008
January 16, 2008

Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R) said Tuesday that he intends to sponsor legislation to make government spending information more accessible to the public.

Cornyn's proposal calls for expanding the federal government's spending Web site, which allows visitors to search federal contracts and grants. According to the Associated Press, a pilot program would give Americans the option of searching for such expenditures as government staff salaries and travel costs.

Texas court dismisses libel suit

Matthew Pollack | Libel | Quicklink | December 6, 2007
December 6, 2007

The Associated Press reports that a Texas judge dismissed a libel suit against the San Antonio Express-News stemming from several stories and an editorial alleging misconduct on behalf of a Louisiana company that previously ran Bexar County’s jail commissaries. As part of an agreement with Premier Management Enterprises, the paper acknowledged there were three minor factual errors in the stories that ran in December 2005.

E-mail retention practices roil Missouri, Texas governors

Jennifer Koons | Freedom of Information | Feature | November 19, 2007
November 19, 2007

Less than two weeks after a federal judge ordered the White House to save copies of e-mail messages, the issue has sparked controversy between open government advocates and the governors of two states.

In Missouri, Gov. Matt Blunt questioned the legal authority of his attorney general, Jay Nixon, to look into his administration's e-mail practices.

TV station asks reporter to reveal confidential sources

Gregg Leslie | Reporter's Privilege | Reaction | November 5, 2007
November 5, 2007

One of those things we hate to see: a TV station that apparently doesn't "get it" when it comes to how the news media works. The Associated Press reports that:

A South Texas public television station has refused to turn over financial documents to the Valley Morning Star unless a reporter reveals confidential sources, the newspaper reported Saturday.