Tag: Right To Know Law

How Social Media Becomes A Public Record Under Right To Know Law

As public officials are increasing their use of social media, the boundaries of what is considered public and private on such accounts is being explored in the courts.  For instance, the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, recently affirmed a decision of the Office of Open Records (OOR), which held that a Facebook page originally created by an individual while campaigning for borough council but later repurposed for official borough communications was a public record under the Right-to-Know Law… Read On

FERPA, the Right-to-Know Law and School Bus Videos

On April 22, the Commonwealth Court announced its decision involving a request by Fox 43 News for a school bus video from a local school district.  The Court ultimately ordered that the video had to be released with certain redactions and that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) did not prevent its release.  The decision is significant because it was the first appellate decision to address the interplay between the privacy protections of FERPA and the public disclosure requirements of the RTKL after an earlier decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court addressing this issue… Read On

Rights to Public Information Under the Sunshine Act During COVID-19

Although the vaccination process for COVID-19 has begun in the United States and other countries, some have estimated that it could take until mid-summer for enough of the United States to be vaccinated to allow a greater return to normalcy.  As such, many of the moves to remote business are likely to continue for a considerable time… Read On

Top Ten Most Significant RTKL (and Sunshine Act) Cases of 2020

Likely due to the COVID 19 pandemic, 2020 saw a large decline in the number of appellate decisions interpreting the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law (RTKL). Interestingly, the number of Sunshine Act cases increased, likely the result of Act 15 of 2020, which allowed political subdivisions to hold public meetings remotely. The biggest case of the year saw the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections walloped with a huge $118,000 plus attorney fee sanction for failing to conduct a good faith search for public records… Read On

Nauman Smith secures public records victory for news media client seeking tax revenues generated in the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone

The Commonwealth Court has issued an order and opinion affirming that total tax revenues generated by certain taxes levied in the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone (“NIZ”) are public records. This will allow the public to discern which taxes have had the most impact on the revitalization of Allentown’s downtown.    State and local taxes collected from the NIZ are used to repay debt service and bonds issued by the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority to fund various economic development projects within the zone… Read On

What Does the Affirmance by the Supreme Court of an Award of Attorney Fees Exceeding $118,000 Under the Right to Know Law Mean to the Average Requester?

In December, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed an award of over $118,000 in legal fees under the Right-to-Know Law to Uniontown Newspapers, Inc., publisher of the Herald Standard, Uniontown’s home newspaper.  This decision was the culmination of a request for records first submitted in September 2014 and a six-year battle by the paper to obtain public records from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) concerning incidents of cancer and respiratory illnesses of inmates and employees at SCI-Fayette. … Read On

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