California’s top court says public may see government’s past legal bills

The California Supreme Court recently issued a closely split ruling in a case involving whether or not the legal bills from settled suits involving government entities within the state are public information. A member of an advocacy group wonders how the decision will affect taxpayers.

On Dec. 29, the court voted 4-3 that while the bills for long-settled legal matters could be accessed by the public, those invoices relating to current or pending litigation were protected by the purview of attorney-client privilege.

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CO: Weld County commissioners quarrel over utility company meetings, document release

After one county commissioner released confidential records to protest county meetings with utility companies, the rest of the commissioners are left scratching their heads.

Commissioner Sean Conway recently released emails, which detailed the county’s attorney giving the board legal advice before a planned September meeting with Xcel Energy, alleging the meeting was a kind of unethically private correspondence called ex parte communication. The emails went public this week when a conservative blog published them.

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Texas court mulls ‘magic words’ loophole for transparency law

The Supreme Court of Texas heard arguments Wednesday on whether to write a loophole into state public records law that would allow government agencies to avoid public scrutiny and disregard basic public records procedures simply by invoking “magic words.”

The court could also decide to eliminate a previous loophole it created, but most of its public records decisions in recent years have favored government secrecy over the transparency that Texas law used to be known for.

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Op-Ed: Oregon agencies avoid public scrutiny by abusing attorney-client privilege

Attorney-client privilege is a near-sacred pillar of our legal system. It protects disclosure of legal communications, specifically excluding attorneys from being compelled to testify regarding most client communications in any legal proceeding.

Regrettably, some state agencies are inappropriately manipulating attorney-client privilege as a shield against public disclosure laws. Continue…

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