Megan Rhyne's blog

Anonymous jurors, part IV

On Monday, Oct. 26, the Advisory Committee on Rules of Court, a committee of the Judicial Council of Virginia, issued a revised proposed rule on the confidentiality of juror information. The new rule eliminates the blanket use of anonymous jurors in all criminal cases and reworks a few of the provisions regarding subsequent use of juror information sheets by the attorneys in a case.

A copy of the revised proposal is posted here.

VCOG conference wrap-up

Valerie Garner at Roanoke Free Press did an outstanding job writing up summaries, linking to other news articles, taking pictures and posting videos of VCOG's annual conference .... all on her own. But that's Valerie for you! She's as dedicated to open government in Virginia as VCOG is. Take a moment to look through the materials Valerie's assembled here, as well as some of the links below. And give Valerie a thanks if you ever get the chance.

One-on-one TV interview on FOIA

Thank you to Bob Corso, Ed Reams and the other folks at WHSV in Harrisonburg and Staunton for having me on as a guest for their daily one-on-one feature for the 5:00 news.



VCOG's 2009 FOI awards

Virginia Coalition for Open Government bestows open government awards

in citizen, media and government categories


FOIA basics: an editorial

When it comes to understanding both the letter and the spirit of Virginia's Freedom of Information law, John Edwards, editor/publisher of The Times of Smithfield is one of the state's best. So, it is of little surprise that he would have something to say about a couple of FOIA fights brewing in his home-county of Isle of Wight. Rather than explain the scenarios, or John's argument for why certain things are required by FOIA and certain things are not, I'll let John say it for himself. The following is an editorial he wrote for the Sept. 30 issue of The Times.

Tons of access-related stories today

 

This day in 1996: President Bill Clinton signs amendments to the Freedom of Information Act that help usher in a new age of digital democracy. The new law requires the government to make electronic documents available online. http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2009/10/1002electronic-foia/

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Visiting schools in Prince William? Read this first.

  

Today at the FOI Advisory Council's meeting, a representative from the Prince William County Schools, and the county's outside attorney, announced their desire to ask for an exemption to FOIA in the upcoming session. (Actually, they asked for two, but only one is relevant here.)

Electronic messages are public records, too.

As reported by the Miami Herald,  The Florida Public Service Commission chairman ordered his agency to disable all text messaging on state-issued Blackberrys as questions continued about whether staff used the devices to skirt public records laws. The commission has been targeted for potential ethics violations.

Virginia officials would do well to remember that written electronic communications are to be evaluated for FOIA purposes in the same way that a piece of paper, letter, memo, card, etc. would be.

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.

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