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Anonymous jurors, part III

VCOG is not the only group opposing the rules advisory committee's proposal to make jurors anonymous in all criminal cases.

The ACLU of Virginia issued a press release that includes its legal counsel's comments filed in opposition.

So did the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Texas AG: open meetings laws are not unconstitutional

The Texas Attorney General filed a brief today in the federal court appeal of a district court ruling that said parts of Texas' open meetings law unconstitutionally infringed on the First Amendment rights of elected officials. In a press release, the Texas AG argues that the law furthers, rather than frustrates, fundamental First Amendment values. "Elected officials work for the people.

Not taking no for an answer

Recent FOIA "end-runs" show why a response of "no" to a request for records doesn't always put an end to the matter.

Hearing on manager's firing was short on sunshine

A Daily Press editorial faults Newport News City Council for its handling of hearing on city manager's fate. The meeting was open (at the manager's request), but it was held at a time inconvenient to most citizens (10 a.m. on a Tuesday). Then, after the manager's lengthy defense of his job and performance, the council immediately took a vote to fire him. No comment. No discussion.

Money Near Votes

Check out MapLight.org's new feature: Money Near Votes

It tracks campaign contributions to candidates as certain votes approach and shortly after votes are taken.

Anonymous jurors, part II

VCOG has submitted comments to the Va. Supreme Court's Advisory Council on Rules in opposition to a proposed rule to refer to all jurors in criminal cases by number. The proposal goes on to say that juror records cannot be copied by the lawyers who receive them, and the records must be returned to the court once a jury is impaneled.

Though recognizing the need in some cases to protect jurors from the potential threat of harm or tampering, VCOG's board of directors voted at its June board meeting to oppose the proposal in its current form.

Mug shots are public records

Full text of judge's decision


A Roanoke judge reminded local sheriff Octavia Johnson that mug shots are public records that must be released upon request (they can be kept confidential if their release would jeopardize an ongoing investigation, but not after that danger's passed). Johnson's policy was to release photos of those still in the jail's custody, but not those for people released on bail.

Podcast: Why anonymous juries are bad

Podcast on why VCOG's board of directors is opposed to a rule proposed by a Va. Supreme Court advisory committee that would use numbers instead of names for jurors in all criminal cases.
http://web.me.com/meganrhyne/Site_3/Podcast/Podcast.html

For a copy of the proposal, click here.

And for a recent editorial on more on why the idea's a bad one, see below.

Va. FOIA & access in the news

The Warren County Department of Social Services has not violated the Virginia Freedom of Information Act as claimed in a pending lawsuit in General District Court, according to the county attorney. "An adage says there are two sides to every story," Warren County Attorney Blair D. Mitchell says in a response to an argument made on behalf of Linda B. Selover of Front Royal. "While the Defendant, unfortunately, has not prepared destruction documents for the discarded items, that failure is not a violation of the Freedom of Information Act, as the Petitioner suggests," Mitchell asserts.

Va. FOIA & access in the news

Loudoun County Chairman Scott K. York (I-At Large) has submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act to try and find the truth about reports that have circulated about the Planning Commission since last week. York confirmed this weekend he has submitted a FOIA request to Commissioner Sandra Chaloux (Dulles) in an attempt to uncover any e-mails she may have sent regarding the Planning Commission's work session on the Countywide Transportation Plan.

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