Government secrecy should not be legacy of mass shooting, California coalition argues

California’s First Amendment Coalition, joined by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the California News Publishers Association, filed an amicus brief urging an appeals court to overturn a lower court’s ruling that kept death records secret after a 2018 mass shooting. Journalists covering the Borderline Bar & Grill massacre have been denied…

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Knight FOI Fund provides ‘meaningful vote of support’ to California man seeking Marine emails

By Todd FettigNFOIC outreach coordinator For six years, Dennis Buckovetz worked alone, from the back bedroom of his house, uncovering the details of possible wrongdoing at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.  Buckovetz, who served in the Vietnam War as a Marine, was working as administrative director of Marine Corps Community Services at…

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‘Antidote for the distrust in law enforcement is transparency,’ California coalition leader writes

Opening police records to routine and systematic public scrutiny is the way to stop officer misconduct, argues First Amendment Coalition Executive Director David Snyder in an op-ed published in The Mercury News. Snyder wrote in support of California bills to enhance police transparency, including SB 16, which would require disclosure of records related to misconduct….

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California coalition sues sheriff’s office for repeatedly failing to provide misconduct, use-of-force information

The California-based First Amendment Coalition has sued the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office for failing to provide information about deputy misconduct and use of force. The sheriff’s office responded to records requests with unjustified delays and denials, according to the lawsuit. “Unfortunately, the public has largely been left in the dark about the Ventura County Sheriff’s…

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California coalition sues county for access to COVID-19 data

The California-based First Amendment Coalition has sued a county in the state for violating California’s Public Records Act. Ventura County officials have refused to disclose information about COVID-19 deaths and about outbreaks at businesses and other non-residential settings. “It’s troubling that government officials would so blatantly disregard their transparency obligations at a time when people…

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Panel will share tips on fighting for access to public records

Nancy Ancrum of the Miami Herald will lead a discussion with journalists Andrea Gallo of The Advocate in Baton Rouge, La., and Derek Kravitz of the Brown Institute, along with First Amendment Coalition Executive Director David Snyder. The panel will discuss tips for fighting for open government and records access. The event is Thursday, March 18 at 10 am. PST via Zoom. The…

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Los Angeles County Violates Public Records Act, Citing COVID-19

The Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health violated state law by failing to honor two separate public records requests filed by the Los Feliz Ledger during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to those well-versed in the law.  Following a spate of coronavirus outbreaks at congregate living facilities, Ledger Publisher Allison B. Cohen filed a California…

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California Cops Can No Longer Pass the Cost of Digital Redaction onto Public Records Requesters

At a dark time when the possibility of police accountability seems especially bleak, there is a new glimmer of light courtesy of the California Supreme Court. Under a new ruling, government agencies cannot pass the cost of redacting police body-camera footage and other digital public records onto the members of the public who requested them…

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California cities want transparency rules waived in pandemic

Citing unprecedented challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic, city officials across California are asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to suspend or delay numerous state laws, saying they’re unable to comply with everything from environmental regulations to public records laws that give people a window into how the government is spending public money. Noting that city resources…

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When a reporter would not betray his source, police came to his home with guns and a sledgehammer

The banging jolted Bryan Carmody awake. Outside his San Francisco home Friday morning, the longtime journalist saw a throng of police officers with a sledgehammer, trying to break down his front gate. Carmody told the eight to 10 officers he would only let them in with a search warrant. Police confirmed a judge signed off…

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