Texas judge seals case records after they turn up on TV news

Ahnalese Rushmann | Secret Courts | Quicklink | January 14, 2009
January 14, 2009

A Texas judge on Tuesday sealed the mental health records of a murder suspect, even though a local television station had obtained and aired portions of those same records the day before, reports the Austin American-Statesman.

You may wait a while for public records in Corpus Christi

Kathleen Cullinan | Freedom of Information | Quicklink | January 12, 2009
January 12, 2009

If a city can't hand over a copy of its public information policy in fewer than 15 days, one might wonder what hope there is for a legitimately complex request.

Beneath their sealed records, some offenders went back to jail

Kathleen Cullinan | Secret Courts | Quicklink | December 15, 2008
December 15, 2008

Hundreds of criminals in Texas whose records were sealed under a 2003 law have gone on to face new charges in the past two years, "including a handful" of cases of murder and rape, The Dallas Morning News reported today.

Texas law requires meeting agendas be specific

Hannah Bergman | Freedom of Information | Quicklink | October 21, 2008
October 21, 2008

The attorney general in Texas issued an opinion earlier this month saying government bodies need to issue detailed agendas before all meetings under the state’s open meeting law.

The opinion says agendas have to include the subjects that will be up for discussion at the meeting, even if no action will be taken on the items.

Court unseals more documents in secret El Paso corruption case

Rory Eastburg | Secret Courts | Feature | October 20, 2008
October 20, 2008

A federal court on Thursday denied a newspaper’s request to intervene and unseal records in a sweeping corruption investigation in El Paso, Tex., but agreed to unseal some of the documents in redacted form.

Post-Ike, Galveston mayor shuts down media access to city employees

Jason Wiederin | Newsgathering | Quicklink | September 16, 2008
September 16, 2008

The mayor of Galveston ordered city employees not to speak to the news media following the wave of destruction from Hurricane Ike, according to The Galveston County Daily News

At a press conference Monday, Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas would not say when the ban might be lifted. She said city employees, including the chiefs of the fire and police departments, were too busy to talk to reporters during the state of emergency.   

Reporter asked to leave Texas shelter

Jason Wiederin | Newsgathering | Quicklink | September 15, 2008
September 15, 2008

A Galveston reporter who evacuated the city in the face of Hurricane Ike was asked to leave an Austin shelter Sunday, she wrote in a blog for The Galveston County Daily News, as the staff said it made them "very uncomfortable for a reporter to be inside."

Charges against journalist over maternity ward investigation dropped

Jason Wiederin | Newsgathering | Quicklink | September 15, 2008
September 15, 2008

Prosecutors will not pursue charges against a Texas journalist who was arrested last year while reporting a story on security in Amarillo hospitals, The Associated Press reported.

Court issues broad gag order in federal judge’s sex abuse trial

Rory Eastburg | Secret Courts | Feature | September 10, 2008
September 10, 2008

The judge presiding over the trial of United States District Judge Samuel Kent issued a broad gag order Friday, prohibiting court staff, lawyers and “all other witnesses expected to be called by either side” from giving out non-public information that could interfere with a fair trial.  

Kent was indicted in August on charges of abusive sexual contact and attempted aggravated sexual abuse.  He is the first federal judge to be indicted for federal sex crimes, and faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a fine of $250,000. 

Government responds to media in largely hidden El Paso case

Jason Wiederin | Secret Courts | Feature | September 9, 2008
September 9, 2008

In response to a media group’s push for greater access to a sweeping public corruption investigation in El Paso, Texas, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas agreed Tuesday to make available some redacted transcripts, but opposed any broader order forcing transparency in the case.