Tag: Right To Know Law

Something to Consider: Defamation

In Nauman Smith’s newest video series, attorneys across all practice areas will be discussing legal issues and topics they believe their clients and community should consider. Whether you are a business owner or wanting to better understand these issues as an individual citizen, we hope you find them to be informative and thought-provoking. The first video in this series is a discussion on the topic of defamation… Read On

How to Request Public Records in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) provides access to public records in Pennsylvania. Individuals may submit a request for public records to any government agency, and the agency must respond within five business days. If the agency denies the request, in most cases, an individual may appeal and obtain an independent adjudication from the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records (OOR). … Read On

IN 30-MINUTES: A Guide to Election Access

The political climate in Pennsylvania has never been so heated. On Tuesday, October 4, 2022, Nauman Smith Right-to-Know & Media Law attorneys, Craig Staudenmaier and Joshua Bonn, were joined by Jim Parsons and Melissa Melewsky to discuss access for journalists this election cycle. The full recorded session can be viewed below or on YouTube… Read On

Craig Staudenmaier Named ‘Hero of the 50 States’

HARRISBURG, PA, October 1, 2021 – Nauman Smith partner, Craig Staudenmaier, has been inducted into the National Freedom of Information Coalition Open Government Hall of Fame as a ‘Hero of the 50 States.’ The National Freedom of Information Coalition is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes press freedom, litigation, and legislative and administrative reforms that ensure open… Read On

Public Records: Avoiding the Insufficient Specificity Denial

Section 703 of the Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) requires a requester when submitting a written request for public records to an agency to “identify or describe the records sought with sufficient specificity to enable the agency to ascertain which records are being requested.”  This language gave rise in the early years of the RTKL’s existence to denials lodged by agencies to requests because they were “insufficiently specific.”  Challenges to these denials by requesters centered on the remedial nature of the RTKL… Read On

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

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