Marcy’s Law, Loopholes, and Exemptions
States attempt to tighten their grip around the public’s access to certain open records.
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Recently the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office announced it would no longer include the names of victims, including businesses, in its daily list of incidents sent to news outlets. The sheriff cited Marsy’s Law as the reason for the change. Other law enforcement agencies say they are evaluating changes to their practices or seeking guidance from the state Department of Justice.
Starting on Thursday, [Sept. 17] briefings from the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office were stripped of much of the victim information previously included in the daily reports.
Read More | Fox 6 Milwaukee
Members of the Nevada Assembly voted 25-17 on Tuesday, [Aug. 4] in favor of SB2, a measure that repeals some elements of a 2019 bill that critics say make it difficult to hold police accountable for misconduct.
A police accountability law passed in 2019 was lauded for making Colorado law enforcement agencies’ internal affairs investigation reports public for the first time.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ signature put the law into effect on April 12, 2019, making agencies’ completed internal affairs investigation reports a matter of public record. However, a request for any such report must identify a specific incident of alleged misconduct by an on-duty officer involving a member of the public. If a request is missing an element such as the name of the officer or involved party, the department holding the record can deny the request.
In effect, departments can withhold completed internal affairs reports simply because the public doesn’t know whether they exist in the first place.
Read More | The Coloradoan
Legislation that would have made criminal investigatory files public record subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act failed to advance in a Senate committee Friday [Sept. 18].
The Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology unanimously voted to pass by the bill indefinitely, effectively killing the bill unless brought back by a lawmaker. The committee sent the bill to the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council for further study, which means it is unlikely to be brought back during the General Assembly’s current special session.
Read More | The Central Virginian
The Empire Center filed a lawsuit against the New York Department of Health (DOH) on Friday [Sept. 18].
The [denied] FOIL request sought the number who died in a hospital after being transferred out of a nursing home. In a letter dated August 31, DOH responded to the request by saying they would provide the information no sooner than November 5 “because a diligent search for relevant documents is still being conducted.”
The lawsuit seeks the release of Health Emergency Response Data System submissions. Through HERDS, DOH collects daily numbers of confirmed and presumed coronavirus deaths inside and outside nursing homes or assisted care facilities.
Read More | News 10
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.