News organizations file lawsuits against Missouri for failing to release execution drug records

Missouri’s failure to release records regarding the drugs it uses in executions keeps the public from providing oversight of the death penalty. That’s what the Associated Press and four other news organizations are arguing in a suit filed Thursday against the state. Another suit filed the same day by a reporter for St. Louis Public…

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Louisiana failed to turn over key public records about execution drugs

Documents entered into court record in the lawsuit of one prisoner on death row show that the Louisiana Department of Corrections had documents that would have fulfilled a records request made by The Lens in 2013. The Lens, a non-profit newsroom in New Orleans, had previously requested records pertaining to the purchase and inventory of the state’s…

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Cuomo administration maintains secrecy, uses private email for official business

Some New York state officials are using private email accounts to conduct official business. One reporter at ProPublica received an email from Howard Glaser, director of state operations and a top adviser to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, regarding an open records request. This email was sent from Glaser’s personal email account. But later, when the…

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Virginia Supreme Court: FOIA does not cover faculty emails, unpublished research

Faculty emails and unpublished university research can be deemed “proprietary” and withheld under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, the Virginia Supreme Court announced last week. The law was called into question in 2011 when the American Tradition Institute and Virginia Del. Robert Marshall filed a request for emails of Michael Mann, a prominent climate…

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Mississippi Ethics Commission rules in favor of records request for text messages

The city of Tupelo, Miss. violated open-records laws by not providing the Daily Journal with text messages it requested last year. The paper had requested the texts from the mayor’s personal cell phone over the course of three days last October, when a city official resigned, the Journal wrote. The Mississippi Ethics Commission all agreed…

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Sunshine Week: A look at what’s coming up in freedom of information legislation

In many states, recent or pending legislation could impact the transparency of public information. Though several states are taking strides to make public records more open and accessible, a few seem to be adding obstacles to obtaining public information. Here’s a breakdown of what’s happened in recent months and what could be on the horizon.…

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Sunshine Week coverage of open government violations, FOI laws and more

To celebrate Sunshine Week we’ll be sharing exclusive audio, tipsheets and reporting on FOIA battles and open government. Newspapers across the country kicked off the week with stories analyzing FOIA responses and violations. Here’s a look at some of the coverage:   Few cited for open government violations | Gannett Wisconsin Media Investigative Team Public officials…

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Mass. newspaper reporter catches city employees burning public records

A reporter from The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Mass. caught city employees burning reams of public records, all without approval from the state. Old purchase orders, payroll records and utility bills, along with a handful of other documents, went up in smoke. The city’s public works commissioner “emphasized that all of the records burned in…

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Using new nonprofit law center, Hawaii’s Civil Beat wins access to police misconduct records

In the flood of paperwork that made its way each year to the Hawaii legislature, a shocking statistic slipped under the radar: About once a week the Honolulu Police Department was suspending or firing an officer for misconduct. Often the offenses were serious – abusing suspects, lying to federal investigators, tipping off drug dealers. And…

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NYPD denies FOIA request for department FOIA guide

The New York Police Department’s Freedom of Information Law Unit is refusing to release its FOIL guide. Yes, you read that right. Public records request service MuckRock asked for the document in late December. Last week a lieutenant in the department’s records unit denied the request, calling the guide “privileged as an attorney-client communication.” You…

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