Transparency News 10/25/18



October 25, 2018


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state & local news stories


In what one legal expert called a highly unusual, “extremely severe” step, a Norfolk judge issued a gag order in a murder case Tuesday, telling lawyers, a detective and even the prosecutors’ spokeswoman not to talk to reporters about the case. Jennifer Nelson, a lawyer with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the press, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C, said the order could have a chilling effect on press freedoms and prevent Norfolk residents from knowing about what’s happening with their judicial system. Circuit Judge Everett Martin, seemingly unprompted, ordered prosecutors Phil Evans and Katie Beye, defense attorney Emily Munn and Norfolk homicide Detective Vic Powell not to talk to reporters about the ongoing first-degree murder trial of Daniel Johnston. The 68-year-old New York man is accused of stabbing 20-year-old Donna Walker inside her East Ocean View apartment in 1981.
The Virginian-Pilot


national stories of interest

Powell, Ohio, police will provide The Columbus Dispatch with records of 2015 domestic-violence complaints against former Ohio State assistant football coach Zach Smith after a special master for the Ohio Court of Claims found Tuesday that the records were improperly withheld. Police Chief Gary Vest said the department doesn’t plan to appeal the findings in the 40-page report. Special master Jeffrey W. Clark found that the police department failed to comply with Ohio public records law in withholding numerous documents, images and audio and video recordings from The Dispatch. Clark agreed with The Dispatch that while the law allows specific information that identifies uncharged suspects to be redacted, entire records cannot be withheld under that exception.
The Columbus Dispatch



editorials & columns


The open government data movement came into its own with the Obama administration, at a time when governments—and society more broadly—was beginning to truly realize the value of government data, and open-standards were taking root as drivers of innovation.    The thrust of this movement was to identify all valuable Government data sets, and to require agencies to make them available to the public, at no cost, and in open-standard formats that ordinary citizens and enterprises could easily access and leverage.  Today, there is unanimous agreement about the value of open government data, not only as an enabler of greater transparency and public accountability, but also as a driver of innovative new services, citizen-centered services, and improved decision-making. However, non-federal government data sets are not covered by the Executive Branch open data policy or by Federal law.  They can be included as part of only with the permission of the private sector controller of the data.  In this way, the rights of private sector providers of proprietary data can be protected, while still allowing the government to use private sector data resources to accomplish its mission.  
Mark MacCarthy, CIO