The Impact of Public Record Litigation on 2022 Priorities
Public record litigation appears to be on a steady incline as governments work to polish up their public record request management processes to fit into the ‘new norm’ of ‘work-from-home’ life.
Subscribe to the Peers in Public Records Newsletter
Let GovQA do the heavy lifting and receive the latest trends in public record requests and government transparency initiatives around the U.S., right to your inbox.
Share your expertise, a ‘quick tip’, or a positive story to be featured in Peers in Public Records. Send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Washoe County, Nevada citing 'harassment,' to vote on charging labor costs for public records
The Washoe County, [Nevada] Commission could vote on Tuesday [Oct. 19] to charge fees for public records, citing requests that they said are more about “harassment than a genuine interest in reviewing government records.”
The new policy would allow the county to charge for records that take more than two hours of staff time to compile. Fees could range from about $20 an hour if done by a lower-level county employee to more than $50 an hour if documents needed to be reviewed or redacted by attorneys.
Read More | Reno Gazette Journal
Judge: Kansas election database function not public record
Kansas’ secretary of state did not violate the state’s open records law by ordering the removal of an election database function that generates a statewide report showing which provisional ballots were not counted, a judge ruled.
The decision Wednesday [Oct. 13] by Shawnee County District Judge Teresa Watson comes in a lawsuit filed by voting rights activist Davis Hammet, who is the president of Loud Light, a nonprofit that strives to increase voter turnout. The group helps voters fix issues that led them to cast provisional ballots so that their votes are counted.
The judge sided with Secretary of State Scott Schwab in finding that the ability to produce a statewide provisional ballot detail report in the election database is not a public record as defined by the Kansas Open Records Act. Watson found that eliminating that functionality does not violate the state law as written.
Read More | AP News
Oklahoma Corrections Department sued over alleged Open Records Act violations related to executions
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has been sued for alleged violations of the state’s Open Records Act regarding executions.
“Plaintiff submitted multiple written requests to Defendant under the Oklahoma Open Records Act requesting copies of public records relating to the state’s lethal injection execution plans,” according to the lawsuit. “In response to those requests, Defendant cursorily denied that any responsive records exist. In light of the scope and nature of the requests, the assertation defies belief.”
The suit seeks a declaration that the actions by the Department of Corrections are unlawful. It seeks an order requiring the agency to make the records available.
Read More | Tulsa World News
Maryland court of special appeals rules Mosby’s ‘do-not-call’ list is not exempt from public records laws
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s “do-not-call” list of 305 police officers with “integrity issues” is not exempt from public records laws, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled on Thursday [Oct. 14].
The three-judge panel determined the document could not be classified as a personnel record which might be exempt from public records requests because the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office does not have the ability to hire, fire or directly discipline Baltimore City Police officers.
The court also ruled the list does not get an exemption for “attorney work-product,” because such documents are prepared for a specific trial.
Additionally, the court found Mosby’s office’s refusal to waive $18,000 in fees to for two public records requests was “arbitrary and capricious.”
Read More | CBS Baltimore
Managing public records when working from home becomes the norm
Even before the times of social distancing, working remotely required employees to learn a new way to communicate with team members. If a team is accustomed to having all relevant members in one location (where they can walk down the hall to discuss a request or have several daily in-person meetings), it can be difficult to adjust to virtually communicating with people in different locations.
Government agencies rarely have every file in digital format and have some paper files kept in offices or offsite storage. Tracking down paper documents can normally cause some delays in records processing; but remote working makes it nearly impossible to access those files. Though digitizing or scanning paper files can be helpful when tracking down physical documents is not feasible, this is not something that all agencies necessarily do proactively (and obviously it wasn’t possible to implement a digital system once the pandemic stay at home orders were already in place).
Read More | GovQA
GovQA's Upcoming Events
GovQA regularly hosts and moderates roundtables and webinars with partners, associations, customers, and other subject matter experts to create and expand opportunities for state and local government agency members to discuss the challenges they face.
Department of Health Roundtable
Results Webinar: 2022 Peers in Public Records Survey
Department of Corrections Roundtable
The Peers in Public Records Newsletter (formerly FOIA News) is a bi-monthly e-newsletter brought to you by GovQA. It is a collection of the latest trends in public record requests and government transparency initiatives, shared stories, informative case studies, and actionable knowledge that will help you calm the chaos and keep your organization compliant. Send your comments to email@example.com.