County of Bucks v. Sholtis
Case Number: 2020-05950
Court: Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Clients: Brett Sholtis
Petition for Review Filed: Nov. 24, 2020
Background: In July 2020, Brett Sholtis, a reporter for WITF in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, submitted a public records request under the state’s Right to Know Law seeking video recordings from inside a Bucks County jail allegedly showing a confrontation between an inmate and corrections officers.
The county denied the request, arguing that the responsive videos were exempt from disclosure. In August, Sholtis appealed to Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records, the agency responsible for handling public records appeals.
The OOR granted the reporter’s appeal in October, requiring the county to provide the responsive records within 30 days. The next month, the county filed a lawsuit against Sholtis in the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas. The county argued that the requested videos are not public records and asked the court to reverse the OOR’s October decision.
Reporters Committee attorneys began representing Sholtis in November.
Co-Counsel: Jim Davy of All Rise Trial & Appellate
Update: On April 4, 2022, the Court of Common Pleas reversed the final determination of the Office of Open Records. On May 3, 2022, Reporters Committee attorneys appealed to the Commonwealth Court.
2020-11-24: Bucks County petition for review
2020-12-02: Entry of appearance
2020-12-21: Sholtis’s response to petition for review
2021-08-17: Brief in support of the county’s petition for review
2021-09-07: Respondent’s brief
2021-10-22: Rescheduling order
2022-01-13: County of Bucks closing brief
2022-01-27: Sholtis’s reply brief
2022-04-04: Court of Common Pleas decision
2022-11-16: Sholtis’s principal brief
2022-11-18: Amicus brief filed by the Abolitionist Law Center and the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project in support of Sholtis
2022-12-16: County’s reply brief