CA: Judge jails judicial reform advocate who discussed divorce online

In a decision First Amendment experts have dubbed “outrageous,” a Contra Costa Superior Court judge jailed a San Ramon man for writing about his divorce on the internet — even though his writings were based on material publicly available in court files.

The judge, Bruce C. Mills, insisted in his decision that “matters that are put into court pleadings and brought up in oral argument before the court do not become public thereby” — a position that lawyers say fundamentally misunderstands the nature of court records.

More

Miami Herald sues county for records disclosing location of Zika mosquitoes

The Miami Herald filed suit Friday against Miami-Dade County seeking to force the county to disclose records showing the locations where mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus have been trapped.

Miami Beach residents need to know where the mosquitoes have been found so they can intelligently debate whether spraying a controversial insecticide over “the entirety of a 1.5 square mile densely populated area” is justified, the lawsuit said, asking for a quick hearing in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court.

More

Wisconsin Supreme Court to hear open records case

An open records case being fought by Attorney General Brad Schimel will go before the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The Republican who tries to position himself as a strong advocate of transparency and regularly holds training sessions for government officials on the open meetings and records laws is appealing to keep secret a pair of law enforcement training videos made when he was working as the Waukesha County district attorney.

Continue…

More

Judge: Clinton may be ordered to testify in records case

A federal judge said he may order Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton to testify under oath about whether she used a private email server as secretary of state to evade public records disclosures.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan signed an order granting a request from the conservative legal advocacy group Judicial Watch to question six current and former State Department staffers about the creation and purpose of the private email system.

More

Editorial: Ohio open records bill is a winner

An open government is a more honest and efficient government. But Ohioans often face unnecessary delays and obstacles when they ask for records that document what government is up to — either because public officials don’t know open-records laws, misinterpret them or purposely stall to cover up misdeeds.

Unless a citizen has tens of thousands of dollars and years to spend on a court lawsuit, he’s out of luck. Crooked or obstinate government officials know this, and use it to exploit the law.

More

Oklahoma bill to establish open records online portal nears governor’s desk

An Oklahoma bill to set up a new online portal for open records requests and expand the number of documents available on the state’s open data portal in the process is nearly ready to head to Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk.

Rep. Josh Cockroft and Sen. Nathan Dahm’s H.B. 3142 passed the Senate last week (after House lawmakers approved it in March), and on Monday, the bill headed back to the House so legislators can consider its amendments. Should they give it the green light, it will need only Fallin’s signature to become law.

More

Maryland citizens to gain peek at police discipline, but not full view

The process by which police officers are disciplined in Maryland has long been shrouded in secrecy. But bills passed by the legislature this year should allow citizens more of a peek behind the curtain.

Civilians will be included in the training process for officers, and internal disciplinary hearings will be made public. Residents could get a seat at the table to decide the outcome of those hearings.

More

Uncovering information about police misconduct might soon get easier in California

California has some of the strictest laws in the U.S. against publicly releasing information about officer discipline.

State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) says recent high-profile clashes between police departments and the communities they serve show that now is the time to change the rules. Leno has introduced SB 1286, which would unravel some of the protections against releasing officer information. His push for transparency is generally supported by police reform advocates as a way to improve police-community relations.

More