On Friday, Feb. 5, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry filed a lawsuit against Andrea Gallo, a reporter for The Advocate and The Times-Picayune, in an effort to block the disclosure of public records she had requested related to an investigation into sexual harassment complaints against the head of the criminal division of the state attorney general’s office.
The attorney general’s lawsuit asks a judge to deny Gallo’s records request, require her to pay the government’s legal fees, and seal proceedings in the case. The lawsuit was filed against Gallo after the attorney general’s office declined to turn over the public records she requested, and the newspaper indicated that it would sue for access to the information if it was not produced.
“No journalist should be sued simply for requesting that government officials release records, particularly those that shed light on an issue that is of such intense public interest and importance,” said Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “Lawsuits like this one go against the spirit of Louisiana’s public records law, and only serve to intimidate members of the press and public who ask questions about what their government is doing and how.
“Disclosure of public records is an essential part of keeping communities informed, as well as of promoting trust and transparency in government institutions. We urge the attorney general’s office to immediately drop the lawsuit against journalist Andrea Gallo and to release the information requested so that the public can better understand how this investigation was handled.”
The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information. Stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter or Instagram.