Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Forum: Connecticut legislature should rectify disastrous court ruling on freedom of information

By James H. Smith

It’s a big question really. Why would seven judges decide that the police can keep information about crime secret from the American public? That is essentially what the state Supreme Court did July 7.
Before becoming Supreme Court justices, four of the seven who decided the case were either prosecutors or city attorneys, one was an FBI agent — species not prone to informing the public. The justice who wrote the 27-page opinion, Richard Robinson, (there are no concurring or dissenting opinions) worked as a city lawyer for Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy.
On the 27th page of Commissioner of Public Safety vs. Freedom of Information Commission, Mr. Justice Robinson writes that the issue should be “squarely on the radar of the legislature” and he suggests that open government advocates should “pursue appropriate legislative remedies.”

Read more here

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Media around the state reacts to Connecticut Supreme Court ruling

Other media outlets around Connecticut responded last week to the state Supreme Court's ruling on how much police need to disclose when a person is arrested. Here are a few links:

New London Day: Make Police Reports Available
and State Supreme Court ruling Restricts Release of Arrest Information

Hartford Courant: Open Government Advocates Lose at Supreme Court
and High Court Oks Police Secrecy

Connecticut Post: State Supreme Court Wrong to Let Police Decide How Much to Tell Public

New Haven Independent: Looney vows to fix FOI ruling

Also, check out this piece on the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information's web site.

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Editorial: Connecticut Supreme Court decision a blow to accountability

EDITORIAL from July 7: 
In a blow to accountability and open government, the Connecticut Supreme Court Monday ruled that police statewide have to release only basic information about arrests to the public while prosecutions are pending.
The ramifications of this decision, stemming from a New Haven Register challenge of state police secrecy in 2008, could have serious implications on the public’s right to know and ability to hold law enforcement accountable.
The Associated Press and other media organizations filed a brief arguing that a ruling in favor of police would allow authorities to selectively withhold information and avoid scrutiny after arrests. Despite this, the high court unanimously sided with police.

Read the full editorial here

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ICYMI: Connecticut Supreme Court: Police can limit release of arrest data

By Dave Collins
Associated Press
HARTFORD >> The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Monday that police statewide only have to release basic information about arrests to the public while prosecutions are pending, striking a blow to the media and open government advocates.
The high court said in a 7-0 decision that current state law limits disclosure of arrest information to “police blotter” material including the name and address of the person arrested; the date, time and place of arrest; and the criminal charges. Justices said police also are required to release one of the following: the arrest report, incident report, news release or other similar document.
The court, however, said in the decision written by Justice Richard Robinson that it’s up to the legislature to decide whether the law needs to be changed and to debate how to balance the public’s right to know against the state’s interest in protecting the integrity of prosecutions and criminal investigations.

Read the full story from last week here

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