Volume 1, Issue 2

FOI InSight, an open government newsletter
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FOI InSight is a publication from the National Freedom of Information Coalition featuring and aggregating news and analysis about FOI and open government issues, and delivering items of interest to and about our state member organizations, partners and stakeholders.

We welcome suggestions for future newsletters and our FOIA Events Calendar, and ask that you send us ideas for and links to news about your organization and other FOI and open government-related items and events.

 InSight Highlights 

Secrecy Report 2012: Sunlight Overshadowed 
The 2012 Secrecy Report released by OpenTheGovernment.org reveals that positive changes from the Obama administration’s open government policies nevertheless appear diminished in the shadow of the President’s bold promise of unprecedented transparency. Ultimately, though, the public needs more information to judge the size, shape, and legitimacy of the government’s secrecy.
Federal judge ruled against Delaware's "secret" arbitrations
Delaware's Chancery Court cannot hold "secret" hearings instead of trials to settle large business disputes. Delaware Coalition for Open Government filed a federal lawsuit in October 2011 challenging the Chancery Court's private arbitration. The federal judge hearing the case ruled in favor of the Delaware Coalition for Open Government that the arbitration cases must be open to the public.
10 questions for 2012 candidates
OpenTheGovernment.org, POGO, ASNE, and UCS have put together some questions intended to spark important discussions about how our government can be more transparent, accountable, and effective.

NFOIC joins nonprofits in amicus brief involving Virginia FOIA case
Open government advocacy groups, including the National Freedom of Information Coalition, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule unconstitutional those provisions of state public disclosure laws that allow only states’ own residents access rights to public records.
NFOIC joins other nonprofits, newspapers in amicus brief
NFOIC has joined media associations and NFOIC member groups Freedom Foundation and Washington Coalition for Open Government in asking the Washington state Supreme Court to limit Gov. Chris Gregoire’s authority to withhold documents from public scrutiny.
Affidavit in rape, cocaine case unsealed in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of a local newspaper seeking access to a sealed affidavit. The New England First Amendment Coalition and other public access groups filed an amicus in support of its disclosure.
New England First Amendment Coalition joins media, other right-to-know groups seeking documents in Pfc. Bradley Manning trial
The New England First Amendment Coalition has joined other right-to-know and news media groups seeking access to documents in the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who's charged with giving classified information to the website WikiLeaks.

NFOIC wants to hear from you!

NFOIC has launched its open government newsletter FOI InSight. We welcome suggestions for future newsletters and our FOIA Events Calendar, and ask that you send us ideas for and links to news about your organization and other FOI and open government-related items and events.

Iowa's "The People Have the Power" workshop begins
“The People Have the Power: Making a Difference in Your Community” is an interactive, 90-minute workshop that informs citizens how to obtain public records and participate in local government meetings. The program arises from a statewide poll that the Iowa FOI Council conducted last year and is funded by an open government grant from the National Freedom of Information Coalition.
2012 FAF Sunshine Litigation Seminar registration open
A litigation seminar presented by Florida First Amendment Foundation is scheduled on October 12. Registration of the seminar has been open to the public. This all day session is geared for attorneys interested in learning more, including practical tips, on litigating open government issues. The seminar has been approved for 6 CLE credits by the Florida Bar and will be of interest to lawyers and non-lawyers alike.
New Maine public access ombudsman expected to facilitate public records requests
A public access ombudsman’s position has been funded by Gov. Paul LePage and the legislature this year in the Attorney General’s Office, in an effort to make it easier for Mainers to obtain public records.
Annual meeting of Iowa FOI Council 2012
Iowa Freedom of Information Council will hold its annual meeting on Oct. 12. Members of the newly created Iowa Public Information Board will be guests at the meeting.
D.C. adopts federal guidelines for attorney fees in FOIA cases
Local courts should follow the same guideline as the federal courts to award attorney’s fees to prevailing plaintiffs in the District of Columbia’s Freedom of Information Act cases. The ruling marks an important milestone in spelling out attorney fees reimbursement since D.C. adopted its FOIA statute in 1976.
North Carolina Supreme Court will consider case involving private campus police records
The North Carolina Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case regarding campus police records at private schools, an important victory for the Elon University graduate and former student journalist.
NFOIC's State FOIA Friday
Be sure to check out the State FOIA Friday to read every week news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week. A new post every Friday.
Most wanted secret document: Justice Dept memo analyzing drone strikes against suspected terrorists
In the world of secret information about powerful people, there are two sets of documents in especially high demand right now. First are Mitt Romney's undisclosed tax returns. The other is a classified legal memorandum, prepared by the Justice Department, analyzing the government's legal authority to conduct targeted killings of terrorists abroad-including, specifically, terrorists who are U.S. citizens. The government's position in court contrasts sharply with its conduct outside of court.
The National Freedom of Information Coalition protects our right to open government. We are a nonpartisan alliance of citizen-driven nonprofit freedom of information organizations, academic and First Amendment centers, journalistic societies and attorneys. Twice annually, NFOIC awards grants to strengthen state coalitions and member organizations, foster their growth, and support a broad range of open government endeavors in individual states. The NFOIC also administers the Knight FOI Fund, which offers financial support to defray costs and expenses in open government lawsuits throughout the year.

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