Letter to Florida legislature regarding FOIA fee shifting legislation

January 28, 2016

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 24 news organizations urged Florida lawmakers to reject two bills that propose the elimination of mandatory fee-shifting for public records requestors who are successful in cases where records are "unlawfully" withheld.

Reporters Committee argues for broad definition of 'news media' in FOIA fees case

Adam Marshall | Freedom of Information | News | January 14, 2015
January 14, 2015

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard arguments Tuesday in Cause of Action v. FTC, a case that challenges whether the Federal Trade Commission properly denied fee waiver requests made by the non-profit group Cause of Action. The group asserted it was entitled to a fee waiver both because its requests were in the public interest and they are a representative of the news media. Katie Townsend, Litigation Director at the Reporters Committee, argued before the court as amicus curiae in support of the Cause of Action, focusing on the changing nature of disseminating information to the public in the digital age.

Cause of Action v. Federal Trade Commission

May 12, 2014

The Reporters Committee, along with eight other media groups, filed an amicus brief with the D.C. Circuit to argue that the current test agencies and courts use to define "representative of the news media" is too narrow and does not accord with the language of the 2007 FOIA amendments or the congressional intent behind those amendments, and does not leave room for evolving media outlets to qualify for waivers. Cause of Action, a government accountability group, sued the Federal Trade Commission after it denied the group a news media fee waiver and a public interest fee waiver.

Va. high court clarifies FOIA exemption, redaction fee issues in case over climate change controversy

Emily Grannis | Freedom of Information | News | April 17, 2014
April 17, 2014

The Virginia Supreme Court ruled this morning that the University of Virginia does not have to release certain emails sent to and from a former professor.

The American Tradition Institute (now the Energry and Environmental Legal Institute) requested emails under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act from Michael Mann, a climate scientist and then-professor at UVA, in 2011. He intervened in the case at the trial level, alleging that the university was not sufficiently representing his privacy and academic freedom rights in a controversy surrounding climate change research.

City must pay $538,555 in public records suit over e-mail metadata

Jeff Zalesin | Freedom of Information | News | July 2, 2013
July 2, 2013

A town in Washington state must pay more than half a million dollars to resolve a seven-year lawsuit that brought electronic metadata within the scope of the state public records law, a trial court ruled last week.

The City of Shoreline will have to reimburse $438,555 to cover the plaintiffs' costs as Washington agencies are required to cover reasonable attorneys fees for their opponents after losing open records lawsuits. Shoreline also agreed last year to pay a $100,000 statutory penalty after the court found that the city violated the state public records act.

Agency asks Tennessee newspaper to pay $35,000 for records on deaths and near deaths

Jeff Zalesin | Freedom of Information | News | June 11, 2013
June 11, 2013

A Tennessee newspaper investigating the state's Department of Children's Services may have to pay almost $35,000 for public records on deaths or near deaths of children who had contact with the child welfare agency, according to an estimate released by the DCS last week.

Journalist awarded more than $400,000 in FOIA case against FBI

Lilly Chapa | Freedom of Information | News | October 22, 2012
October 22, 2012

A federal court awarded a California-based journalist and author nearly half a million dollars in fees, concluding two FOIA litigation battles with the FBI that lasted for more than 25 years.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco ruled Thursday that the FBI must pay Seth Rosenfeld $479,459 in attorneys’ fees because the journalist “substantially prevailed” in the two lawsuits he filed against the FBI.

Wisconsin Supreme Court rules public should not be charged cost to redact public records

Raymond Baldino | Freedom of Information | News | June 28, 2012
June 28, 2012

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled yesterday that authorities cannot charge the public for redaction costs under its public records law.

The decision rejected an attempt by the City of Milwaukee Police Department to charge redaction costs for providing records in two requests filed by reporters at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Fla. appeals court awards attorney's fees for county's undue delay in complying with records request

Josh Hoberman | Freedom of Information | News | May 18, 2012
May 18, 2012

A Florida appeals court ruled today that a county could not avoid paying attorney's fees to a successful records requester who sued for access merely by demonstrating that it did not delay in contacting her to acknowledge her request.

The Fifth District Court of Appeal in Florida awarded Susan Hewlings attorney's fees after she successfully petitioned a lower court to order Orange County, Fla., to release records pertaining to a dangerous dog investigation of her pet.

Pa. court orders state transportation dept. to release speed tracking device records to ticketed speeder

Andrea Papagianis | Freedom of Information | News | March 29, 2012
March 29, 2012

A Pennsylvania appellate court ruled on Tuesday that the state Department of Transportation must release records on speed enforcement devices used by state police agencies in full – without any redactions – under the state's Right-to-Know Law to an engineer whose speeding ticket sparked the requests.