Start here to find answers to Brown Act and Public Records Act questions
Everything you need to know about your right to copies of public records held by state and local government agencies. Concise explanations of citizens' rights under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) and other authorities, with step-by-step instructions, sample request letters, discussion of potential roadblocks, and much more.Read More
Our comprehensive legal resource on your right to attend--and to participate in--the public meetings of government legislative entities, such as city councils, county boards of supervisors, and school boards. Discussion covers California's Brown Act (for local governments) and Bagley-Keene Act (for CA state agencies), with sample "cure & correct" demand letters, and more.Read More
Asked & Answered
Asked & Answered (A&A) is FAC's searchable database of our lawyers' written answers to questions, posed by users like you, about their rights under public records laws, open-government laws, and first amendment safeguards. Perfect for drilling down on legal issues so you can find thorough, well-reasoned answers that address your concerns and your issues.Read More
The Legal Hotline is our free legal consultation service, giving you access to FAC's expert lawyers for answers to legal questions. Ask a question about public records; about your right to attend government meetings and court proceedings; about freedom of speech; freedom of the press, and related issues. FAC's lawyers will email their answer directly to you. And yes, the Hotline is really free.Read More
FIRST AMENDMENT NEWS
Headline News / Coalition News/ Commentary/ Asked & Answered
1st Amendment News
- Federal appeals court denies woman's 'right to be forgotten'
A Connecticut woman was denied in her quest to force Hearst newspapers to eliminate records of drug charges against her even after the charges were dropped and erased from the public record. The woman, Lorraine Martin, sued for libel and the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against her. “Just as the [Connecticut] Erasure […]
- Scholastic free speech: Tinkers ask Supreme Court to rule on 'heckler's veto' case
John and Mary Beth Tinker of the landmark Tinker v. Des Moines U.S. Supreme Court decision have filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking the court to hear an appeal of the case of Dariano v. Morgan Hill. Students lost the free speech case in the Ninth Circuit in which they challenged the school administration’s ban on […]
- Media wants live broadcast of April U.S. Supreme Court hearing on same sex marriage
National media organizations are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow audio-visual coverage of its hearing on the same-sex marriage cases. In an historic session, the high court is hearing four cases in April on the constitutionality of state laws that allow same-sex marriages.(Legal Times, January 29, 2015, by Tony Mauro) A letter to Chief […]
- Free speech rights of judges before U.S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a Florida case over a campaign law restricting judicial candidates from soliciting campaign contributions. A public defender seeking election to a county court signed a letter announcing her candidacy and asking for contributions and was reprimanded and fined under state law. Those against the law point out […]
- FAC amicus brief: agency can't take back records mistakenly released
FAC has filed an amicus brief in a case testing a local government agency’s power to take back records it has released to a requester under the CPRA. The Newark Unified School District, in releasing documents, mistakenly included records that were subject to the attorney-client privilege. The school district demanded return of the documents and […]
- FAC sues San Diego PD for records on controversial cell phone surveillance technology
The First Amendment Coalition today filed suit against the San Diego Police Department to obtain information about the SDPD’s purchase and use of surveillance equipment that can identify and track all cell phones in a specific location, such as a building, neighborhood or street intersection. “We believe the SDPD has an obligation to tell San […]
- FAC leads amicus filing in case seeking access to records in hands of private firms that contract with government
An open-government coalition led by FAC has filed an amicus brief in a California freedom-of-information case involving access to data of government contractors that the contractors are required, under their agreements wth local government, to create and maintain. In Flynn v. Los Angeles a PRA requester seeks information in databases about the towing and storing […]
- Announcing FAC’s 2014 Free Speech & Open Government Award Winners
The First Amendment Coalition is proud to announce the winners of the 2014 FAC Free Speech & Open Government Award. This year FAC received 30 nominations covering the efforts of journalists, individuals, government officials, educators, attorneys, community groups, non-profit journalism organizations and newspapers. The two 2014 winners of this year’s awards use different methods to […]
- Maybe summoning the press before Parliament isn’t such a bad idea
By Edward Wasserman Alan Rusbridger, editor of London’s Guardian, faced off with British legislators last week about his newspaper’s publishing secrets about official surveillance that were leaked by the fugitive U.S. intelligence contractor, Edward Snowden. Press advocates weren’t pleased. Carl Bernstein, the Watergate-era star who’s on the Mount Rushmore of 20th century media heroes, certainly […]
- Climate change on trial in a defamation case
COMMENTARY BY JEAN-PAUL JASSY/ A modern-day Scopes Monkey Trial is unfolding in a District of Columbia defamation case. In 1925, two of the most famous lawyers of the time, Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, argued over whether John T. Scopes should have been prosecuted for teaching evolution in public school. Scopes was convicted and […]
- Media heroism turned on its head: The real Manning scandal
BY EDWARD WASSERMAN–In media mythology, the years from the mid-‘60s to the mid-’70s were the classical age, a heroic time of moral clarity. Mainstream journalism marinated in adversarialism. Little Southern newspapers infuriated their own readers by staring down segregation. Foreign correspondents forced upon an unwilling public the realities of a brutal war. Network news ignored […]
- Instead of delays at all airports, let's sequester Congress and shut down the airports serving D.C.
BY PETER SCHEER–U.S. aviation officials are warning of severe flight delays due to furloughs of air traffic controllers triggered by the sequester’s across-the-board budget cuts. I have a better idea. Instead of furloughing controllers across the country, the Federal Aviation Administration should just shut down all major airports for the nation’s capital: Reagan National, Dulles […]
Asked & Answered
- A&A: Protection against libel for Florida reporters?
Q: My company and I are being sued for defamation at state court in Miami, Florida. In discovery, the plaintiff has requested all emails between me and others that mention his name. As a reporter, am I protected by law from having to turn over such information? A: Florida does have a statutory newsgathering privilege […]
- A&A: Is law enforcement body camera footage a public record?
Q: I would like to know if the footage captured by body cameras and their recording devices a public record? A: The anticipated rise in use of body cameras by police does indeed mean there will also be an increase in “records” that could be subject to open records laws in various states. In many states, police investigatory […]
- A&A: Are a city manager' meetings with his staff covered by the Brown Act?
Q: Recently I learned our City Manager approved the implementation of a significant change to a public fee-paid service without presenting it for a city council review or approval, thus also without ever notifying the affected public as a whole or the media of the change. Impacted residents were individually notified to comply with the change […]
- A&A: Does the CA legislature have an open meeting law?
Q: It seems like neither the Brown Act nor Bagley-Keene applies to the CA legislature. What law governs the process through which the CA legislature, including committees, considers laws and informs the public of opportunity to comment at hearings. And are there laws that prevent a committee for adding a last-minute amendment (without notice) to […]