Transparency News 10/29/18



October 29, 2018


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state & local news stories


A panel convened by Henrico County’s chief executive has culled the list of applicants to build a new indoor sports and convocation center and zeroed in on Richmond Raceway’s grounds as the preferred site for a 194,000-square-foot facility. Officials declined to discuss the prospective project’s finances while the county weighs the panel’s recommended contenders: MEB General Contractors Inc. and Eastern Sports Management LLC. The Public-Private Education and Infrastructure Act requires localities to protect information in proposals that the applicants identified as confidential.
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Loudoun residents will now have free access to digital federal government information through the Loudoun County Public Library system. The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) officially welcomed Loudoun County Public Library (LCPL) to the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) on earlier this week. Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-Va.-10th) worked to designate LCPL as a federal depository. Comstock’s office reached out to GPO when she realized there was no library in her congressional district that was in the Federal Depository Library Program.
Loudoun Times-Mirror


national stories of interest

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas seemed poised to appeal after a state court ruled against his office last month in a lawsuit over New Mexico’s open-records law. But amid mounting concerns from advocates of government transparency that he could undermine what they viewed as a big win for the public’s right to know, Balderas ruled out an appeal late Wednesday. The ruling by the state Court of Appeals promised to give bite to the Inspection of Public Records Act by allowing fines of up to $100 a day when agencies improperly withhold documents requested under the statute. The case began with Marcy Britton, an animal rights activist who objected to then-Attorney General Gary King’s Animal Cruelty Task Force raiding Hispanic ranches on the supposition it would find cockfighting rings. The raids, carried out by many uniformed police officers and even a helicopter in one instance, usually turned up no cockfights.
Santa Fee New Mexican

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that there is a First Amendment right of access to judicial proceedings in criminal cases — like trials, jury selection, and pre-trial hearings — and to the transcripts of criminal proceedings. It has also recognized the news media’s role as the primary conduit through which the public accesses court proceedings. While the Supreme Court hasn’t addressed whether the First Amendment right of access also specifically applies to criminal court records (other than transcripts), every federal circuit court of appeals that has considered this question has ruled that it does.   "It is only through such access that the media can report on the workings of the criminal justice system both in individual cases and at a system-wide level," the Reporters Committee and 47 organizations wrote in a friend-of-the-court brief filed Oct. 26. "Among other things, access to court records can shed light on past cases that inform the public about the history of our nation’s courts and development of important jurisprudence."
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

The chairmen of two congressional committees who sought sealed testimony in a South Florida court case from key players in the Trump-Russia investigation ran afoul of proper procedures, a federal judge in Miami said. The federal magistrate judge rebuffed those efforts on Sept. 5 but the reasons why and other details had been shielded from the public — until now. A transcript viewed by Miami Herald and McClatchy reporters shows that the judge felt their effort threatened to overstep congressional powers, but he left the door open to consider a request made through proper legal channels.