Public employees

Calif. Supreme Court rules names of officers involved in on-duty shootings are public record

Bradleigh Chance | Freedom of Information | News | May 30, 2014
May 30, 2014

The Supreme Court of California this week upheld a lower court ruling requiring a police department to release the names of officers involved in on-duty shootings.

In December 2010, Los Angeles Times reporter Richard Winton asked the Long Beach City Attorney‘s Office for the names of the two police officers who shot and killed a man in Los Angeles.

The officers were responding to a resident’s tip about an intoxicated man carrying a six-shooter though the neighborhood. When they arrived on the scene, they found 35-year-old Douglas Zerby. According to the officers, Zerby held up an object resembling a gun and the two of them reacted by firing shots and killing him. When the officers approached his body, they could see that the object Zerby was holding was actually a garden hose with a pistol grip spray nozzle.

Wisconsin can consider requesters' intent, court says

Emily Grannis | Freedom of Information | News | May 12, 2014
May 12, 2014

A Wisconsin appeals court has ruled that state agencies may consider a requester's intent before releasing public records under the state's freedom of information law.

Previously, Wisconsin, like most states, did not require a public record requester to provide their name or the reason for seeking information.

The court last week was considering a case in which a man requested the employment records of a public school employee he was suspected of abusing. The Milwaukee School Board refused to release the information to that requester, citing a previous restraining order against the man and concerns for the employee's safety.

Intelligence agencies defend new review policy

Emily Grannis | Freedom of Information | News | May 12, 2014
May 12, 2014

Under increasing public scrutiny over a new pre-publication review policy, the Office of the Director National Intelligence released a statement claiming the media has "misconstrued" the policy, but open government advocates aren't so sure.

In April, DNI put in place a policy that, among other things, prohibits current and former ODNI personnel from citing in books and publications to information that has been leaked to the public.

"The use of such information in a publication can confirm the validity of an unauthorized disclosure and cause further harm to national security," the policy states.

The policy goes beyond prohibiting officials from releasing classified information and extends the prohibition even to citing news reports about leaked information.

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.

Maryland high court rules racial profiling complaints can be disclosed

Lilly Chapa | Freedom of Information | News | January 24, 2013
January 24, 2013

Maryland's highest court today ruled that redacted state police records of racial profiling complaints can be made public under the state’s Public Information Act in Maryland Department of State Police v. Maryland State Conference of NAACP Branches.

Mont. supreme court orders release of investigation letter

You-Jin Han | Freedom of Information | Feature | December 2, 2011
December 2, 2011

The Montana Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that the city of Billings must release an internal investigation letter issued to a police department employee who allegedly made personal purchases on a department credit card.

N.H. high court upholds release of pension information

You-Jin Han | Freedom of Information | Feature | November 4, 2011
November 4, 2011

The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled this week that the public has a right of access to the names of state pension benefit recipients as well as the amounts they receive. The court decided that the public interest in releasing the information outweighed any privacy interests of the individuals named within the records.

The court’s ruling affirms a lower court's order last year to the New Hampshire Retirement System to disclose the same records.

Calif. court rules pension info must be disclosed

Clara Hogan | Freedom of Information | Feature | June 29, 2011
June 29, 2011

The names and pension amounts of retired county employees are public records that are useful in holding the government accountable, a California appeals court ruled Tuesday in San Diego County Employees Retirement Association v. California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility.

Wyoming high court affirms public's right to salary data

Rachel Costello | Freedom of Information | Feature | March 30, 2011
March 30, 2011

The Wyoming Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed and adopted the opinion of a lower court that school districts in the state must disclose the names and salaries of their employees under the state public records act in Laramie County School District No. One v. Cheyenne Newspapers, Inc.

Request for names of porn-viewing SEC employees denied

Christine Beckett | Freedom of Information | Feature | December 9, 2010
December 9, 2010

The names and job descriptions of Securities and Exchange Commission employees who were caught viewing pornography at work will remain a secret, a federal district judge ruled Tuesday in Colorado.

Denver attorney Kevin Evans requested the information after reading an SEC report that found that 24 SEC employees and seven employees of an SEC contractor were using agency computers to access pornography. The investigation found that the employees in question spent hours at work viewing pornographic websites and one employee was found to have a long-standing Internet porn addiction.