Monday, July 30, 2012

Appellate Court ruling bad for journalism

It is a bad day for journalism in Connecticut – with reporters’ future ability to get police reports in a timely fashion in jeopardy.
The state’s Appellate Court on Monday agreed with the state police’s contention that if they put out a press release, regardless of how little information it contains, they have done enough to comply with state Freedom of Information law.
The Appellate Court, which heard arguments in the case in November, issued an advanced release opinion on Monday. Read it HERE.
The Freedom of Information Commission is expected to discuss whether it will appeal to the state Supreme Court at its next meeting Aug. 8.
The New Haven Register had lodged a complaint with the commission after state police refused to release a police report on a near fatal attack on Route 8 in Derby in 2008, when Toai Nguyen severely beat his father. The commission sided with the New Haven Register.
The Department of Public Safety appealed to the Superior Court, and Judge Henry Cohn, a former assistant attorney general, sided with the state police, who were represented by Stephen Sarnoski, a current assistant attorney general. Cohn’s ruling prompted the appeal to the Appellate Court.
The New Haven Register did eventually receive the police report, but it took several months.

Here is an excerpt from a June 2010 New Haven Register editorial:  
“The bare bones press release from the state police identified Toai Nguyen, the charges against him, the date, time and place of his arrest, as well as a brief description of the incident. But, it left out crucial details like the name of the victim, the hospital where he was taken, his injuries or the weapon used in the assault….. Through its own persistence, the Register learned eventually that Nguyen was a mentally unstable, (undocumented) immigrant who had fractured his father’s skull with a metal bar used to disable the steering wheel of an automobile…… Clearly, press releases so lacking in detail as the one for Nguyen’s arrest are not sufficient.”
Read full editorials on the topic HERE and HERE.  In 2010, Nguyen was arrested for allegedly stabbing his sister. Nguyen’s court case in the stabbing incident is still pending in Superior Court in Milford, with his next court date on July 31.

UPDATE - Man accused of stabbing Shelton sister found not guilty by mental disease. Read the Register's coverage in the Aug. 1 edition here.

UPDATE - The Freedom of Information Commission decided at its meeting Aug. 8 to appeal to the Supreme Court.

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Blogger Richard Warner said...

I have read your post and found information regarding press release on police records. Please can you share some imperative information regarding criminal records?

September 3, 2012 at 1:54 AM 

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