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States seek balance between government transparency and public safety
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Judge withholds video in fatal Oklahoma police shooting

Pittsburg County District Court Judge Mike Hogan on Tuesday [Sept. 10] granted District Attorney Charles Sullivan’s motion to quash an open records request for the video of the July 17 shooting of 35-year-old Mark Anson Schoggins.

Police say Schoggins was shot in McAlester following a police chase after he reportedly stole items from a liquor store. The officers’ names haven’t been released.

Sullivan acknowledged the video is public record, but says there are exceptions if it shows a death, severe violence or is part of an ongoing investigation. Sullivan told the McAlester News-Capital he hasn’t received an Oklahoma Highway Patrol report on its investigation.

Read More | KFOR News 

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9/11: Poll Results

69% of FOIA News subscribers think public record laws should not be expanded to include text messages containing public information sent via private devices

FOIA HEADLINES

Finger pressing delete on a computer

OC [Orange County, CA] Approves New Policy to Immediately Destroy Public Records

Orange County officials, without public discussion, approved a controversial new policy last week allowing immediate destruction of public records, despite state law and a court ruling saying they must be kept for two years.

The updated rules, which supervisors approved on a 4-0 vote Sept. 10, lets officials immediately destroy records they believe are not “required by law or County policy to be filed and preserved,” without imaging or copying them as state law mandates before destroying records less than two years old.

It also says officials “may” have to keep certain “communications held on private devices and accounts,” but doesn’t say what kinds of communications must be kept or for how long. The California Supreme Court has ruled that government communications through private devices and accounts are public records, though the policy doesn’t require these records to be preserved.

Read More | Voice of OC

Tennessee claims state agency recommendations are exempt from open records law

The state of Tennessee has rejected an open records request for reports by 22 state agencies on how to improve the lives of rural Tennesseans.

The recommendations were requested by Governor Bill Lee when he took office in January. Those reports have now been completed, but the governor’s office wants to keep them private. It rejected the Tennessean newspaper’s request for copies of the reports, claiming these documents are exempt from the Tennessee Public Records Act because they are part of the “deliberative process” involved in forming policy.

“Drawing conclusions about policy ideas from an incomplete document at a single department would be like calling the ballgame after watching only one team in warmups,” said Laine Arnold, a spokeswoman for the governor.

Read More | Muckrock

Silicon Valley [CA] lawmaker authors bill to strengthen public records act

One of California’s oldest government transparency laws is expected to get a boost if a new bill that removes the fear of a financial burden from those requesting public records is signed into law in the coming weeks.

The proposed measure from a Silicon Valley lawmaker could clear the way for more open government.

Sen. Bob Wieckowski, whose district includes all of Santa Clara and a portion of San Jose, began crafting the proposal for Senate Bill 518 after reports of agencies shifting their attorneys’ costs to public records act requesters came to his attention.

Read More | San Jose Spotlight

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