First Amendment News

More efficient archiving needed to re-establish open government

A Slate writer praises Obama’s efforts to resurrect the Freedom of Information Act, but the next step is to improve government record keeping so government workers can actually find the documents requested by reporters and others. -DB Slate Jan. 29, 2009, at 1:28 PM ET By Fred Kaplan President Barack Obama’s decision last week to revive the Freedom of Information Act was a good first step toward fulfilling his campaign pledge for a “new era

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Federal judge: Public has right to know names of Prop. 8 contributors

Backers of California’s Proposition 8, the November ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage, failed to persuade a federal judge that the names of campaign contributors should not be public, the San Francisco Chronicle said. Prop. 8 supporters say they will appeal. — DR Prop. 8 campaign can’t hide donors’ names Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer Friday, January 30, 2009 (01-30) 04:00 PST Sacramento – — Proposition 8 proponents’ complaint that a California campaign-finance disclosure law

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Investigation of passenger's shooting death marred by lack of transit district transparency

The Bay Area Rapid Transit District’s investigation into the shooting death of a passenger has been marked by a failure to “provide basic and important information about the case to the public, even while promising transparency,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Many of the details have come instead from a lawyer for the dead man’s family and from amateur videos taken on the railroad platform and distributed by television and the Internet. — DR BART’s

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Appeal judges hear arguments in CFAC's suit for release of county's digital mapping database

CFAC is awaiting a decision in an appeal of its trial court victory against Santa Clara County for release of the county’s digital “basemap” of real estate parcels, which can be used in various digital mapping applications. Santa Clara County, which has licensed the basemap for tens-of-thousands of dollars, now claims release of the files threatens national security and is barred by federal Homeland Security regulations. Appeals Court judges quizzed lawyers for both sides in

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CFAC joins appeal to permit webcasting of file-sharing case in federal court

CFAC has joined a legal brief urging the federal Court of Appeals in Boston to allow the webcasting of court hearings in a music file-sharing lawsuit filed by the recording industry. Although TV cameras are permitted in California state trial courts on a case-by-case basis, few federal courts have allowed cameras since an experiment in the 1990s—and the discretion of individual federal district court judges to permit cameras is unclear. The brief, filed yesterday, was

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