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Asked & Answered

A&A is a searchable database of questions posed by users like you about their rights under open government laws and First Amendment safeguards that have been answered by FAC’s attorneys—all First Amendment and government access specialists at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, LLP, an international law firm with offices in San Francisco.

A&A: Can I Sue A Newspaper Over Censoring a Paid-For Obituary?

Q: Can I sue a newspaper for refusing to publish a full-page obituary that I was paying for. I used two naughty words, and I refused to back down. Their paper is laden with foul and vulgar words, usually, just for effect. Mine was a commentary about the social forces that caused the death of the subject of the obituary. A lawyer told me I cannot sue a private paper? Then what are my options? I will not take out the naughty words and there is no other paper in town who would dare publish it. A: Whoever told you

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A&A: Police Department in New Jersey Won’t Release Report on a Family Member’s Death

Q: I have requested a copy of the police report about a family member’s death in New Jersey They won’t let me have a copy. A: New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act provides that “government records shall be readily accessible for inspection, copying, or examination by the citizens of this State, with certain exceptions, for the protection of the public interest, and any limitations on the right of access … shall be construed in favor of the public’s right of access.” N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.  However, the Act also provides that “where it shall appear that the record or records which are

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A&A: Emailed Public Comments Were Not Read as Promised at Board of Supervisors Meeting Closed By Coronavirus

Q: I requested that two statements be read on the public record at a County Board of Supervisors meeting. This board met in spite of the fact that the meeting was closed to the public due to Coronavirus pandemic, and they stipulated that emailed statements would be read and failed to do so. What is my recourse, if any? A: Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Newsom issued executive orders N-25-20 and N-29-20, which temporarily suspend any Brown Act requirements “expressly or impliedly requiring the physical presence of members, the clerk or other personnel of the body, or of the public as a condition of participation in or

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A&A: Can I Obtain A Copy of A Zoning Complaint Filed Against Me?

Q: If someone filed a complaint with the county zoning office about my property can I obtain a copy of the complaint to determine who filed this complaint? A: Yes – the document is public record subject to the California Public Records Act (the “CPRA”).  In addition, the CPRA applies to all local agencies, including school districts and any board or commission of a city, county or other political subdivision.  See Gov’t Code section 6252(b).  We typically recommend submitting a written request to the agency from which you are seeking records, as this will compel a written response. Written CPRA requests are fairly

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A&A: How Can I Request All Audio and Video of My Arrest?

Q: I was arrested for DUI three months ago. Since then the DMV has dropped the case against me because I had 0.00 BAC.The officer believed me to be under the influence. I adamantly denied his accusations but none the less he arrested me.Now the probable cause is what concerns me. I am being told numerous different reasons why I was originally pulled over.I believe that obtaining the body camera footage (as well as the dash camera and audio from inside the vehicle) will be useful for me as I near the court date. Officer was even talking on his

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A&A: Former Employer Blocked My Twitter Account Stopping Me From Accessing COVID-19 Info

Q: I was terminated earlier this year from a job on a social media team at an entity that was publicly funded. Despite never sending a Direct Message, or a Tweet to or about the organization, I was blocked from those apps at a time when important COVID-19 information was being released to the general public. Because of the block placed on my Twitter account, I was unable to see this vital information. A public records request will show that I did not send them any messages nor did I Tweet anything about them. My question: can I file a

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