SPJ Legal Defense Fund

The Society of Professional Journalists and the National Freedom of Information Coalition have joined forces – and legal war chests –  to help citizens and journalists fight for public records, namely, to help litigants who sue for access to government information.

In FOI cases, NFOIC can provide court fees and SPJ can help with attorney fees. As part of the partnership, SPJ and NFOIC will:

  • Have staff and volunteers from both organizations solicit applications and monitor public record battles at the state and federal levels for worthy cases.
  • Give priority to cases that a) have a strong legal basis, b) have the ability to establish good case law, and c) will help citizens and journalists, regardless of the profession or standing of the plaintiff.
  • Write or join amicus curiae briefs and/or intervene in cases where appropriate.
  • Coordinate publicity and advocacy.
  • Solicit other partners, when merited, such as state coalitions and other national access organizations.

SPJ’s Legal Defense Fund was created in 1972 to fight for the First Amendment, primarily for public records and open meetings. Litigants apply for funds and the applications are considered by a six-member committee, aided by SPJ’s attorney. The committee can provide grants of up to $5,000, and larger amounts are considered by the SPJ Board of Directors. Through the alliance of NFOIC and SPJ, this program can be accessed through one application that both organizations can approve for their funding programs. 

Apply to the Knight FOI Litigation Grant and the SPJ Legal Defense Fund – Joint Application

If you wish to apply to both NFOIC and the SPJ Legal Defense Fund, please download this form and follow the instructions. Learn more about the SPJ Legal Defense Fund and how the grant can be used. Read more on NFOIC-SPJ partnership to support FOI litigation.