Search Results for: public's right to speak

A&A: Public right to to speak denied at school board meetings

Q: I need help defending the  public’s right to speak at open meetings. At school board meetings, board members will not let members of the public comment for the established time of three minutes. School district staff speaks for three minutes and then the public gets three minutes. Often times the chair does not allow the public the chance to speak at all. The chair always interrupts the public speaker. I have audio and visual

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Definition of public forum crucial in Hawaiian free speech dispute

Can a government agency control comments posted to its Facebook page? That is the issue raised after the Hawaiian Police Department banned to pro-gun commenters from the HPD Facebook page. They are now being sued on constitutional grounds. If the Facebook page is found to be a “public forum,” then the government agency running the website, unlike owners of private websites, cannot curtail the public’s right to speak freely. Read the story at the Citizen

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EPA expands public’s right-to-know

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has introduced new ways for the public to receive and analyze pollution data and is also asking for ideas to improve the Toxics Release Inventory program. -DB OMB Watch April 7, 2009 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking steps toward improving public access to pollution information and is seeking ideas from the public for improving the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program. During a national conference on TRI

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Federal Court rejects argument that mug shot of securities fraud suspect is public record

A Florida federal court rejected the Freedom of Information Act request of a freelance journalist for a prisoner’s mug shot ruling that the man’s privacy was more important than the public’s interest in seeing the photo. -DB The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press December 16, 2009 By Amanda Becker A federal court in south Florida told a freelance journalist that his request for the mug shot of a securities fraud mastermind will go

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A&A: Stripped of First Amendment Rights By City Council

Q: I went to a city council meeting and a woman was being proposed for city office. I condemned her appointment, saying Martin Luther King Jr. would not have approved. I also condemned the homosexuals in the room. Christianity is often condemned by others with no results, but this time, the Mayor interrupted me and then summoned the police to escort me out of the chambers. The city is now considering filing a restraining order

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Federal court allows New York police to keep convention surveillance records secret

The New York City Police Department won a victory as the 2nd Circuit panel ruled that it did not have to release police surveillance records gathered before the 2004 Republican National Convention. The panel found in this case that police privilege trumped the public’s right to know. -db Courthouse News Service June 9, 2010 By Nick Divito (CN) – New York City can keep secret 1,800 pages of undercover police surveillance records gathered in the

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Court denies access to wiretaps of ex-Governor Spitzer

A federal appeals court ruled that prosecutors may withhold records of wiretaps about the beginnings of the investigation into a prostitution ring that resulted in the resignation of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. -DB The New York Times August 8, 2009 By Benjamin Weiser Prosecutors do not have to release secret court records relating to wiretaps that might have offered more details about how the investigation of the prostitution ring that ensnared former Gov. Eliot Spitzer

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A&A: Limiting Public Comment to Issues Not Already Covered

Limiting Public Comment to Issues Not Already Covered Q: I recently attended a County Board of Supervisor’s meeting concerning implementation of medical cannabis ID card program. During the meeting the board Chairman told the individuals coming forward that when they are giving their testimonies they are to limit their comments to issue other than what has already been brought up by previous testimonies. My problem with this is that it appears to be limiting people’s

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A&A: Limiting Public Testimonies to New Issues

Limiting Public Testimonies to New Issues Q: During a recent City Council meeting the board Chairman told the individuals coming forward that when they are giving their testimonies they are to limit their comments to issue other than what has already been brought up by previous testimonies. My problem with this is that it appears to be limiting people’s testimonies.  I see the practicality of have such a policy during these public quorums, but it

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Transparency: Ferguson grand juror sues for right to speak out

A grand juror in the proceedings over the police shooting of  Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri is suing on free speech grounds to break the lifetime gag order. The juror says the release of the redacted documents showing the evidence presented to the grand jury does not accurately  portray the proceedings. (Courthouse News Service, January 5, 2015, by Joe Harris) The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri is representing the juror who says that it

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Public agency pensions: Editorial reaffirms public’s right-to-know

An editorial in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat calls for the Sonoma County employee association to release information on pensioners receiving over $100,000 a year. In a recent case in Sacramento County, a judge ruled that under California’s Brown Act Sacramento County could not keep pension information from the public. -db Pubilc agency pensions: Editorial reaffirms public’s right-to-know Santa Rosa Press Democrat Editorial July 23, 2010 http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20100723/OPINION/100729808/1043/opinion?Title=PD-Editorial-Right-to-know “The people of this state do not yield

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Victory for public’s right to know in CA Supreme Court decision

The California Supreme Court ruled unanimously last week that the Department of Public Health must release, in full, public records relating to violations against patients at state-run facilities for people with developmental disabilities. “It’s a complete victory for patients, families and the public, who are now going to get key information about serious violations of law and even egregious abuse,” said CIR lawyer Duffy Carolan of Jassy Vick Carolan LLP, and FAC Board Member told Reveal News. “Through access

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Divorce cases pit privacy rights against public's right to know

There are strong opinions as to whether details of divorces should be revealed to the public. Some argue that especially for public figures, the details can reveal to the voter important information about values and character. Others says that interest in divorce details is prurient and intimate revelations could needlessly damage reputations and hurt innocent people such as children. -DB Wall Street Journal May 28, 2009 By Dionne Searcey Disclosures during divorce proceedings often elicit

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Opinion: First Amendment protects public’s right to record events in public spaces

Even though a compelling argument can be made for the First Amendment right of journalists, activists and just plain regular citizens to make records of breaking news in public venues, the police have made numerous arrests in these incidents lowering the U.S. rank for freedom of the press.  -db From a commentary for MediaShift, May 14, 2012, by Josh Stearns. Full story    

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Open government: Gag orders hurt accountability and the public’s right to know

When courts decide lawsuits involving government officials, they too often come with gag orders preventing parties from making public statements. The orders deprive the public of the ability to know what their government is up to, reducing the deterrent value of the lawsuits. (TechDirt, October 30, 2015, by Tim Cushing) Last spring, Rhode Island citizens were left stranded by a gag order that prevented public comment by lawyers and public officials over a proposed settlement

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Should Congress create a public’s right to appeal secret FISA court rulings?

A former judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court suggests a mechanism to allow appeals of secret court proceedings while still safeguarding national security. In a New York Times op-ed column, senior federal judge James G. Carr advocates appointment of “independent lawyers with security clearances to serve ‘pro bono publico’ — for the public’s good — to challenge the government when an application for a FISA order raises new legal issues.” Full story

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Federal judge rules for public interest group seeking files of criminal investigation of House member

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. found that the Justice Department could not withhold files from the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics of their criminal investigation of U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska. The Justice Department did not file any charges against Young and withheld the files on privacy grounds. -db From the Anchorage Daily News, January 11, 2012, by Richard Maurer. Full story

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Supreme Court ruling on employer montoring of e-mail messages leaves intact right of public’s right to know

While ruling that  an Ontario police department armed with a legitimate purpose had the right to inspect an officer’s text messages, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the pubic’s right to know under the California Public Records Act. The Court said that police officers should realize their writings may be subject to public viewing. -db Washington Post June 18, 2010 By Robert Barnes A hesitant Supreme Court waded cautiously into a question that arises daily in workplaces

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Cleveland newspaper causes stir by unmasking anonymous poster – a judge

In revealing the identity of a person posting comments on their site under the moniker “lawmiss”, the Cleveland Plain Dealer believed that the public’s right to know outweighed the importance of protecting the privacy of anonymous commentators. The “lawmiss” postings, it turned out, came from the e-mail address of a judge. -db The Plain Dealer March 26, 2010 By Henry J. Gomez CLEVELAND, Ohio — By unmasking an anonymous poster at its companion Web site,

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