Public Records, Not Public Records and Private Investigators

Government agencies won’t put public records on the Internet but the former Santa Bernardino County Assessor found a technological runaround to making his emails a public record.

A private investigator and the former supervisor of the Worthless Check Division in the St.Tammany (Louisiana) District Attorney’s Office were sentenced to three years’ probation for buying and selling criminal information from the National Crime Information Center database. The DA employee got the heavier sentence — she also lost her job.

Nebraska Supreme Court ruling: Burial records from a state run cemetery are a public record. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) claimed that the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) applied because the cemetery was for residents at a former psychiatric hospital. But the court noted that HIPAA allows for the disclosure of protected health information when required by state law, and that Nebraska’s public records laws trumped HIPAA because these are death records, which are open records. Reported by RCFP.

Texas media, private investigators and genealogists are opposing the efforts of the Texas legislature to exempt the dates of birth of government employees from disclosure as a public record. The media has uncovered misdeeds by employees of the Texas Youth Commission — matching dates of birth with employee names — involving abuse of people and the public trust. Shielding dates of birth in public records does not protect the public from identity theft, as legislatures claim when attempting to carve out more public record exemptions.

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