Archive for the ‘Pennsylvania’ Category

This week in public records: Pennsylvania – Massachusetts – Arkansas

A law firm that accessed and viewed archived Web pages of an adversary through Archive.org did not violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act , even though those Web pages were not supposed to be available, an Eastern District of Pennsylvania judge ruled. Federal Judge Clears Law Firm Accused of Hacking Opponents’ Web Archives, New Jersey Law Journal, July 24, 2007

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that documents covered by attorney-client privilege are not public records. Work-product may still be covered by the public records law. Attorney-Client Privilege and Public Records Access, Massachusetts Law Updates, July 23, 2007.

Personal emails on government computers may be a public record, which should be determined by a court, in a ruling of the Supreme Court of Arkansas. The determination may rest in whether the non work related computer activity “should be carried out by a public official or employee.” Personal e-mail on public computers not always public, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, July 23, 2007.

Also, see my postings on this theme in other states: Arizona and California, Idaho, and the Sixth Circuit.

Database of the day: Funeral homes and directors disciplinary actions

Search the online records of disciplinary actions from 2000 to 2007 for funeral homes and funeral practitioners at the Maine Board of Funeral Service. Use this advanced search query at the Google search engine. In this example, I’ve searched the name “Fernald”. Note the Web address in the search bar.

maine funeral.jpg

Use the same Google search format to identify Pennsylvania professional license disciplinary actions, including for funeral directors and funeral homes, from 1999 to 2007.

The Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board has images of Notice of Proposed Disciplinary Action and Consent Order for cases filed from 2005 to 2007.

The Texas Funeral Service Commission has a one page list of disciplinary actions taken against licensees since September 2006. The record has a name, violation, action taken and date.

This document has hyperlinks to all the state funeral regulatory boards.

This week in public records: Federal – Washington – Iowa – Wisconsin – California – Tennessee – Pennsylvania

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a ruling that could advance employee rights to privacy protection of their personal email generated at a workplace computer.

In Warshak v. United States, the federal court upheld the finding that e-mail users are entitled to the same expectation of privacy as persons using the telephone.

“Employers should be aware that the Sixth Court did not state that a workplace-monitoring policy will always defeat an employee’s expectation of privacy. If, for example, a company representative with appropriate authority tells an employee that the company will not read his e-mail despite the existence of a policy to the contrary, the employee may be able to argue that he did have a reasonable expectation [of privacy] in his work e-mail,” he cautioned.

“It also is possible that an employee who becomes aware of his employer’s practice not to enforce its right to monitor e-mail may be able to show that he had an expectation of privacy in his e-mail,” Gordon concluded.

For all of these reasons, said Martin Jaron, litigation partner at Holland & Knight and cochair of its electronic discovery team, this decision is just a way station in the broader discussion of privacy rights.

A Washington State Superior Court denied a request for an injunction that would have required a state agency to produce public records in electronic form. Thurston County Judge Christine Pomeroy directed the requester to seek legislative clarification, that electronic copies of records are not currently required to be produced under the Public Disclosure Act.

Inmates in Iowa jails for 23 counties are now on the Vinelink notification service. More counties and the Department of Corrections inmates will be added later this year.

The Wisconsin State Journal is suing a police department for access to police officer employment and disciplinary records. A public records request for copies of complaints brought against a particular officer was denied by the law enforcement agency.

The Oakland, California police department is in the process of updating its public records policies and training procedures. The department is also installing cameras in their patrol cars and, in this article, the records supervisor mentions that these videos will be available under the Public Records Act. Last year, Californians Aware conducted a survey of several hundred California law enforcement agencies to determine their openness to releasing records covered under the Public Records Act. The Oakland Police Department was among the agencies receiving the lowest score.

The sex offender registry for Tennessee has added a mapping program, which will go online July 1, enabling a radius search. Changes in the laws this year will increase the number of offenders required to register, make more names public that have been considered confidential and require all those convicted of a sex crime in the past, regardless of the date, to register by August 1st.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a prison telephone audiotape recording was a public record because it was played in an open court hearing. Even though the recording did not meet the evidence requirements to be submitted at trial it was nevertheless a judicial record.

This week in public records: Ohio – New York – North Carolina – Pennsylvania – Arizona

The Ohio Office of Homeland Security, which licenses security guards, is having trouble keeping an accurate count of licensees since a recent requirement went into effect that employers register each new security guard hire. [State system doesn’t allow exact accounting of security guards, CantonRep.com, May 29, 2007.]

The state estimates about 21,000 individuals holding security guard licenses but says that number could be inflated by as much as 3,000 since employees are registered each time they go to work for a new company, meaning some could be registered multiple times.

Meanwhile, changes in access to public records in Ohio may make it difficult for even law enforcement to do background checks. Recently passed legislation shields personal information in public records on some government employees and their family members.

The New York Drug Dealer Registry Act, recently introduced legislation, would require drug dealers with felony convictions to register upon release from prison.

The North Carolina Court of Appeal ruled against a newspaper that sought clemency appeal applications under the state public records law. [North Carolina Appeals Court Holds That Public Records Act Does Not Apply to Clemency Applications, Media Law Prof, June 7, 2007]

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court agrees with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that juror names are releasable under the state public records act. The newspaper was rebuffed in its request for juror addresses. [Names of criminal trial jurors are public, RCFP, June 5, 2007]

The Arizona Court of Appeal agreed with Phoenix Newspaper, Inc. that a claim for damages made against a school district is a public record, even in the case of a rape of a minor. [Ruling: Rape victim's compensation claim public record, Arizona Republic, June 12, 2007]

This week in public records: California – Washington – Missouri – Indiana – Wisconsin – Pennsylvania

A few months ago I wrote about the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control maintains License Query System. An added feature to the ABC site is daily, weekly and annual reports of new licenses, license status changes and actions taken against licenses including, revocations, suspensions, fines, and issuance or denial of licenses. The database of reports cannot be searched at the site. Search the archived reports from September 16, 2006 to the present by using this advanced search at Google. Replace “Safeway” with your company name, address or other key words.

safeway site:www.abc.ca.gov/reports/

Reporters and anyone compiling statistical data will be able to make use of the reports menu at the ABC site. Query the reports by location and license type to get a detail of all that meet that criteria. For example, find all the caterer licensees in Azusa.

Washington State law now bans employer access to the credit reports of employees or potential employees unless such information is substantially related to the individual’s current or potential job responsibilities. An exception is made if the employer has a “reasonable cause to believe” that the employee “has engaged in specific activity that constitutes a violation of law.”

Missouri private investigators are poised to receive the stamp of legitimacy with the establishment of the Board of Private Investigator Examiners, which will license and regulate private investigators. The bill is awaiting the governor’s signature, which is expected this summer. The Missouri Association of Private Investigators has worked diligently to secure state level licensing and soon they’ll be able to join the majority of states that license PIs.

New regulations for Indiana private investigators will go into effect July 1, including the replacement of the term “private detective” with “private investigator”.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court will decide whether property assessment databases created on behalf of municipalities by private companies are a public records.

Legislation introduced in Pennsylvania would make it a crime to obtain, sell or receive phone records of state residents without their authorization.

This week in public records: Pennsylvania, Texas, Nevada

Philadelphia will be the first region in Pennsylvania to implement an automated inmate release telephone notification. The service, which just covers local jails, will be available to anyone, not just crime victims, when it goes into operation in June 2007. The Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification (SAVIN) alert program will add the other counties over the next 18 months, and may later add state inmates.

The Houston Independent School District is the most recent Texas school district to post its payments to vendors online. Expenses can be identified by vendor but not by type of expenditure. Other districts have some payment information online as well.

A law under consideration in the Nevada legislature would prevent sealing of court cases involving high-profile litigants, which the judges had been doing, according to a survey by the Nevada Appeal.

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