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Final On Access by PS

One judge’s brilliant (and hilarious) rejoinder to lawyers trying to cut off public access to court documents

Thumbs up to federal District Judge Charles Breyer, who has come up with a brilliant—and hilarious—way to register displeasure with the practice of over-sealing documents and information in the official record of court cases. Judge Breyer (whose brother is Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer) has presided for several years over a shareholders’ lawsuit against Hewlett-Packard concerning […]

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On Access by Peter Scheer

Successful outcome in FAC suit pulls back curtain on “deliberative process” 

The First Amendment Coalition has reached a highly favorable settlement in a PRA suit against Marin County for records relating to a stream conservation ordinance. The outcome should serve as a warning to local governments proposing to withhold records on grounds they reflect how official decisions are made. FAC and its co-plaintiff, environmentalist David Schnapf, will receive over […]

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Final On Access by PS

California’s Computer Privacy Laws Require a Critical Update: SB 178 is it.

Police need a warrant to rifle through papers in your desk drawer, so the same should go for sensitive digital data like email, text messages, location history and stored documents of all kinds. Tell your assemblymember to support S.B. 178 (text of bill), the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA), to protect our private digital lives from […]

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On Access by Peter Scheer

1st Amendment unravels plans to hide Cosby transcript, police-shooting video

BY PETER SCHEER—For lawyers who specialize in helping clients suppress information that could prove embarrassing or worse, several recent developments just made their job a lot harder—which is, of course, a good thing from the standpoint of the public interest. Last week a federal judge in California was persuaded to lift a protective order that […]

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Final On Access by PS

Secrecy surrounding public employees’ pay & benefits makes mockery of democracy

BY PETER SCHEER—Local officials talk a good game about government transparency and accountability. And while city council members and county supervisors often go through the motions of conducting official business in an open and public way, on the biggest, most costly and consequential issues that come before them—issues that dwarf all others by orders of […]

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On Access by Peter Scheer

Shame on Inglewood. Using copyright as a muzzle, the city files suit to censor a local critic

BY PETER SCHEER–Inglewood CA doesn’t have much to commend it. To the various reasons not to live there–like high crime rates and bankrupt schools—the city government has added this threat: if you criticize the mayor or other officials, the city will hire lawyers to censor you. That is the clear message to be drawn from […]

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On Access by Peter Scheer

Hillary’s email problem: A crucial lesson for government officials everywhere

BY PETER SCHEER–Across the country literally thousands of state and local political officials, from governors to local school superintendents, use their personal email accounts for sending and receiving messages about government business. Hardly surprising. All public officials support government transparency in the abstract, but when it comes to their own communications, most opt for secrecy. […]

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Final On Access by PS

FAC joins environmental access suit against Marin County

PETER SCHEER– FAC has joined a lawsuit against Marin County concerning an environmental dispute over  Coho salmon. Environmentalist David Schnapf filed the CPRA suit last year, seeking records about the county’s adoption of an ordinance mandated by a countywide conservation plan. Although the 2013 measure was supposed to protect salmon flows, Schnapf and other critics […]

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On Access by Peter Scheer

Should news outlets, social media & internet services curb public access to ISIS?

BY PETER SCHEER—Any rational person viewing even a portion of an ISIS snuff video has wondered: Do these maniacs really think that they can win popular support for their cause through grisly online depictions of immolations and mass beheadings?  Don’t they realize that the vast, vast majority of viewers are sickened by these images and […]

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On Access by Peter Scheer

“Let us Now Praise” a Famous Man: Ray Pryke, Friend of the First Amendment

BY PETER SCHEER—The First Amendment has lost a good friend. Raymond Pryke, a free speech provocateur, agitator for open and accountable government, and patron of First Amendment scholarship and advocacy, died February 7 in the southern California high-desert community of Hesperia, where he lived and worked for many years. He was 91. A British subject, […]

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