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.


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