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Bucks County v. Jaafari

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  1. Freedom of Information

Case Number: 2020-03140

Court: Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Client: Joseph Jaafari

Petition for Review Filed: July 15, 2020

Background: In March 2020, Joseph Jaafari, then a reporter for PA Post, filed a public records request under Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law seeking pandemic or emergency preparedness plans for the Bucks County jail. The county denied the request, citing concerns about public safety and jail security.

Jaafari, now a reporter for Spotlight PA, then appealed the county’s decision to the state’s Office of Open Records, the agency responsible for handling public records appeals. In June, the OOR granted Jaafari’s appeal and ordered the county to provide all records responsive to the reporter’s request within 30 days.

The next month, Bucks County filed a lawsuit against Jaafari in the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas. The county claimed the OOR’s decision was incorrect and that the records should not be disclosed.

Reporters Committee attorneys began representing Jaafari in December. Craig J. Staudenmaier and Joshua D. Bonn, from the law firm Nauman, Smith, Shissler & Hall, LLP, previously represented the reporter.

Update: The county turned over the requested records after Reporters Committee attorneys clarified the scope of Jaafari’s request. The clerk’s office then confirmed the resolution of the case on March 19, 2021.

Filings: 

2020-07-15: Bucks County petition for review

2020-08-12: Jaafari response to petition for review

2020-12-02: Substitution of counsel on behalf of Jaafari

2021-03-19: Praecipe to discontinue and end