Immunity Agreements Are Not Per Se Exempt From Disclosure under the RTKL

In Coley v. Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, No. 317 C.D. 2013 (Pa. Cmwlth. October 7, 2013), the Commonwealth Court, in an opinion by Judge Leavitt, addressed whether witness statements and an immunity agreement contained in a District Attorney’s (“DA”) file were exempt from disclosure under the RTKL.  The court held that the witness statements were exempt from disclosure… Read On

Rare Award of Attorney’s Fees in Right-to-Know Law Case Upheld by Commonwealth Court

On October 3, 2013, the Commonwealth Court issued Staub and the Citizens’ Voice v. City of Wilkes-Barre and LAG Towing, Inc., No. 2140 C.D. 2012 (Pa. Cmwlth. September 12, 2013), an Unreported Memorandum Opinion, penned by President Judge Pellegrini.  The court upheld the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas order directing the City of Wilkes-Barre (“City”) to pay 10% of the costs the Citizens’ Voice newspaper incurred litigating its RTK request. … Read On

Trial Court Finds Right-to-Know Law Supersedes Private Contractual Agreement Limiting the Discoverability of Documents

Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas issued a decision on September 17, 2013, in Mid Valley School Dist. v. Warshawer, No. 13 CV 1528, which held: (1) The disclosure requirements of the Right-to-Know Law (“RTKL”) superseded discovery restrictions contained in a private contractual agreement between a school district and a contractor… Read On

The Supreme Court Establishes the Standard and Scope of Review in Right-to-Know Cases

On August 20, 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed down the long-awaited decision in Bowling v. OOR/PEMA, No. 20 MAP 2011.  The decision comes almost two years since it was argued on September 13, 2011.  In the 41 page majority opinion authored by Justice McCaffery and joined in by Justices Saylor (concurring), Eakin and Baer affirms the holdings penned by Judge Simpson of the Commonwealth Court… Read On

Commonwealth Court Gives Agencies a Free Pass In Deemed Denials

On August 9, 2013, the Commonwealth Court announced its en banc decision in McClintock v. Coatesville Area School District, No. 1262 C.D. 2012.   In an opinion by Judge Cohn Jubelirer, the Court announced that when an agency fails to make any response to a Right-to-Know request resulting in a “deemed denial” under 65 P.S… Read On

Nauman Smith Partners Honored

Two partners of Nauman Smith Shissler & Hall, LLP recently received notable awards within their respective fields of law.  Managing Partner Craig J. Staudenmaier has been selected, for a second consecutive year, by his peers for inclusion in the 20th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America in the practice area of Commercial Litigation. … Read On

Information Related to Louis Freeh’s Investigation of Sandusky Scandal at Penn State is Potentially Subject to Public Disclosure

Note the author of this article is counsel for Ryan Bagwell, a party to the case discussed below. In a groundbreaking decision issued last week, the Commonwealth Court held information received by the Secretary of Education through his service as an ex officio member of the Penn State University Board of Trustees is a record of the Department of Education subject to public disclosure under the Right-to-Know Law (RTKL). … Read On

The Aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision on DOMA

The Windsor Decision Creates Myriad of Questions While the plaintiff in the Defense of Marriage Act case, Edith Windsor, will get back $363,000 in federal estate taxes plus interest, the future is murky for the estimated 114,000 legally married same-sex couples living in the United States. That’s because a state line still decides who is married and who is not… Read On

Mid-Year Update: Federal & State Taxes

State Taxes While there were not that many major tax law changes in Pennsylvania this year, it appears as if there are big changes on the horizon as House Bill 465 is inundated with tax provisions.  Pending Governor Corbett’s signature, one key provision would close the “Delaware loophole” that allows corporations to minimize tax obligations by transferring assets to out-of-state holding companies… Read On

PCN to Broadcast Arguments in Department of Education Records Case Today

Nauman Smith attorney Joshua D. Bonn argued a public records case with broad implications for Penn State and other state-related universities at the Commonwealth Court’s en banc argument session on June 19, 2013.  The Pennsylvania Cable Network will broadcast the argument session today at 7 p.m, and online by the end of the weekend. Bonn represents Ryan Bagwell, who is seeking records related to Louis Freeh’s investigation of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State University.  Bagwell asked the Department of Education to disclose emails received by Ronald Tomalis… Read On

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