Tags : Transparency Watch

Public records request service sues CIA over FOIA practices

MuckRock is suing the CIA over a handful of specific FOIA requests that would shed light on how the agency determines what is and isn’t releasable, among other things.

The CIA “has a track record of holding itself apart from, and largely above, the Freedom of Information Act, consistently ignoring deadlines, refusing to work with requesters, and capriciously rejecting even routine requests for what should be clearly public information,” MuckRock wrote in a blog post.

The suit also addresses the way the CIA handles general requests for emails.

You can learn more about the individual FOIA requests involved in ...

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News organizations file lawsuits against Missouri for failing to release execution drug records

Missouri's failure to release records regarding the drugs it uses in executions keeps the public from providing oversight of the death penalty. That's what the Associated Press and four other news organizations are arguing in a suit filed Thursday against the state. Another suit filed the same day by a reporter for St. Louis Public Radio, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri also challenges the secrecy.

The journalists say the public has a constitutional right to know what drugs are being used in executions carried out by the ...

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Virginia Supreme Court: FOIA does not cover faculty emails, unpublished research

Faculty emails and unpublished university research can be deemed “proprietary” and withheld under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, the Virginia Supreme Court announced last week.

The law was called into question in 2011 when the American Tradition Institute and Virginia Del. Robert Marshall filed a request for emails of Michael Mann, a prominent climate scientist and former University of Virginia professor.

According to the Washington Post:

Lawyers for U-Va. turned over about 1,000 documents to Marshall and ATI, led by former EPA attorney David Schnare, but withheld another 12,000 papers and e-mails, saying that work “of a ...

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Sunshine Week audio playlist, tipsheets and more

All week long we've been celebrating Sunshine Week by sharing some of our best tips, tricks and techniques for filing successful Freedom of Information Act requests.

Deborah Nelson, Kirsten Mitchell, Mike Ravnitzky and Kate Willson talked about the importance of using documents and offered ideas for beefing up your records requests.

The crew from FOIA Machine talked about how you can use the tool to streamline your FOIA requests.

We've compiled all of their clips (each under five minutes) in a Soundcloud playlist.

 

 

Looking for more FOIA resources?

Check out our FOIA Story Pack: Get an in-depth ...

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Mass. newspaper reporter catches city employees burning public records

A reporter from The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Mass. caught city employees burning reams of public records, all without approval from the state.

Old purchase orders, payroll records and utility bills, along with a handful of other documents, went up in smoke. The city’s public works commissioner “emphasized that all of the records burned in recent weeks were old and useless,” according to the paper.

The revelation has caused all kinds of problems for city officials, who said they “jumped the gun.”

It gets even worse:

"Not only were the DPW records disposed of without permission, the manner in ...

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NYPD denies FOIA request for department FOIA guide

The New York Police Department’s Freedom of Information Law Unit is refusing to release its FOIL guide. Yes, you read that right.

Public records request service MuckRock asked for the document in late December. Last week a lieutenant in the department’s records unit denied the request, calling the guide “privileged as an attorney-client communication.”

You can be sure MuckRock is appealing the decision.

NJ court fact-finder recommends Gannett get its due for winning public records fight over PDFs

If a judge agrees with a court fact-finder, Gannett New Jersey could be getting $542,000 in legal fees stemming from a public records lawsuit.

Gannett filed suit in 2009 after several newspapers asked for municipal payroll records in an electronic format, not PDFs. In August 2012 the company won the “precedent-setting case.”

As for the legal fees, “The borough might have come out ahead if it had cut its losses in 2012, when Gannett first sought reimbursement of $495,491. As the borough continued to file motions, the media company’s legal fees continued to mount. By April 2013 ...

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To speed up ‘FOIA slowpokes,’ journalists mix praise and shame

When I was a reporter at a daily newspaper in Virginia, few things frustrated me more than slow responses to Freedom of Information Act requests. I’d put in my request and wait the allotted response time only to receive a handful of excuses. Sometimes, after weeks of nagging, I’d get the documents. Other times my request was strangled to death by red tape.

FOIA statistics are grim. According to MuckRock, a public records request service, about 27 percent of requests go unfulfilled in the first three months.

But when agencies dig in their heels, reporters often have limited ...

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18 Chris Christie investigations coming to a publication near you

WNYC today compiled a clever list of “18 ways Christie and his officials have blocked access to information.”

The release of the subpoenaed documents “exposed the Christie Administration's involvement in Bridgegate show how the Governor's Office has been keeping its decisions and expenditures quiet despite laws that require official business to be made public.”

The state secrets include everything from visitors at the governor’s mansion to State Police overtime data to taxpayer-funded attorneys representing Christie in abuse-of-power investigations.

A handful of lawsuits have already been filed over the exemptions and redactions. We’re looking forward to the ...

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Court rules in favor of S.D. paper, allows access to food stamp data

A federal appeals court has ruled that Argus Leader Media can seek government data on how much businesses take in from the food stamp program, the Sioux Falls, S.D. paper reported.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed a district court ruling and determined that a federal statute that created the food stamp program does not prohibit the USDA from disclosing the revenues businesses earn from it.

Last year Jonathan Ellis, of the Argus Leader, wrote about the paper’s lawsuit:

"By the start of 2011, we had assembled a national database that showed ...

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