Archive for the ‘Pennsylvania’ Category
Reversing a lower court, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that some autopsy records should be disclosed to the public. Maybe the coroners will further open those records in the advent of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Right To Know Law, which explicitly places the burden of proof on the government for justifying why a document is not a public record.
The names of jurors are public records, according to a ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which countered the actions of a Pennsylvania federal judge who kept the juror names from the media in a high-profile trial. Apparently, the 3rd Circuit believes that’s not the norm in federal court, but the reality on the ground is a bit mixed. It’s a different world in state courts, many of which have an explicit ban on releasing the names of jurors.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court is proposing new procedures that, if adopted, would curtail the available personal information in all court files. The court is accepting public comments on its Interim Guidelines for the Protection of Personal Identifying Data in Publicly Accessible Court Documents.
The document proposes redaction of particular personally identifying information in court filings.
Except as provided in these guidelines, a document filed with a court should not include a complete version of any of the following personal identifying data elements. Instead, the filer should redact information from any pre-existing document, or omit information from any document prepared for filing, so that the document includes:
(1) in the case of a social security number, taxpayer identification number, credit card or other financial account number, driver’s license number, or passport number, only the last four digits;
(2) in the case of a birth date, only the year of birth, rather than the exact day or month; and
(3) in the case of a name identified as the mother’s maiden name of a person, only the first initial of that name.
The Pennsylvania Treasury Department has launched a database of state government agency goods and services contracts. Search by any combination of contractor, contracting agency, contract amount or date range. This primarily includes contracts entered into or renewed on or after July 1, 2008. See the FAQ’s for database parameters.
The University of New Mexico is revising its policies on access to public records and disclosure of personal information. One of the additions to the list of public record information on University employees is job application, resume or curriculum vitae. The policy changes will be voted on at the August 2008 UNM Board of Regents meeting.
Government agencies in California can’t assign control of records that would otherwise be public records to a private entity. SB 1696 enrolled. New Law Allows Greater Access to Government Contracts, PolitickerCA.com, Adam Keigwin.
A Pennsylvania open records blog reports that the recent overhaul of the Pennsylvania Right To Know Law includes a requirement that records held by private companies doing business with the government may be a public record.
Emails on the private home computers of government appointees serving on a foundation benefiting public schools are public records, according to an opinion by the North Dakota Attorney General.
I recently discovered that police records in Arizona, even in open investigations, are public records. Public Records Free Directory blog reports that new legislation requires government employee disciplinary records be disclosed, with a provision that police officer’s home addresses are protected.
The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania is formulating new policies regarding public access to court case files. The Notice from the court highlights the proposed removal of Social Security numbers and bank account numbers from future court files. The public can submit comments by email, which are due by May 28, 2008.
An Opinion issued by the North Dakota Attorney General confirms that email messages from government employees “acting within the scope of their public positions” are public records “regardless of whether it is located at their private homes or businesses.”
Last year, I wrote about a similar determination by the Idaho Supreme Court and the Arkansas Supreme Court. The courts, not the government entity, must determine whether public employees’ emails are private, according to the Arizona Supreme Court.
Read a recent round-up of other state court decisions: Are public employee e-mails secret?, The Des Moines Register, March 18, 2008.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press tracks public records news. Subscribe by email or RSS.
The California Franchise Tax Board list of delinquent taxpayers (or should-be taxpayers) extends back to 1987.
“California Revenue & Taxation Code Section 19195 directs the Franchise Tax Board to publish an annual list of the top 250 taxpayers with liened state income tax delinquencies greater than $100,000.”
Select a state Department of Revenue to locate other delinquent taxpayers lists.