Skip to content

Couloumbis v. Senate of Pennsylvania

Post categories

  1. Freedom of Information

Case Number: 1071 CD 2023

Court: Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

Client: Angela Couloumbis

Entry of Appearance Filed: Jan. 15, 2024

Background: In July 2023, Spotlight PA reporter Angela Couloumbis submitted a request under Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law seeking communications between members of the Pennsylvania Senate or their staff members and certain registered lobbyists concerning the lobbyists’ client, the city of DuBois.

The Senate and its appeals officer both denied Couloumbis’s request, ruling that the definition of “legislative records” does not include “communications,” despite an exception in the public records law that allows for public access to correspondence between lawmakers and lobbyists.

Couloumbis, represented by attorney Jim Davy of All Rise Trial & Appellate, appealed to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. In January 2024, Paula Knudsen Burke, the Reporters Committee’s Local Legal Initiative attorney for Pennsylvania, joined Davy as Couloumbis’s co-counsel in this matter.

Related: Burke also represents Couloumbis and reporter Sam Janesch in a public records case seeking access to the legal bills of legislators in the Pennsylvania House and Senate. In that case, the Commonwealth Court rejected the Senate’s broad justification for invoking the attorney-client and attorney work-product privileges in shielding certain records, and remanded the case for in camera review. On remand, the Senate appeals officer ordered the Senate to un-redact some additional records.


2023-08-25: Senate appeals officer final determination

2023-09-22: Petition for review

2024-01-15: Entry of appearance

2024-02-09: Couloumbis brief

2024-02-09: Exhibit A

2024-02-09: Reproduced record

Stay informed by signing up for our mailing list

Keep up with our work by signing up to receive our monthly newsletter. We'll send you updates about the cases we're doing with journalists, news organizations, and documentary filmmakers working to keep you informed.