Transparency News 11/1/13

Friday, November 1, 2013
State and Local Stories


A former Richmond sheriff’s captain is suing Sheriff C.T. Woody Jr. for $5.75 million, alleging that she was falsely accused of leaking information to the media about Woody’s controversial practice of hiring family members. The lawsuit was filed Oct. 24 in U.S. District Court in Richmond on behalf of Yuvonka P. Lewis. She alleges she was fired in 2011 after her superiors made her take a lie detector test as part of an internal investigation to root out the source of media leaks. Lewis says she also was accused by sheriff’s officials of accessing and spreading information about the criminal record of a female sheriff’s deputy.

Charlottesville Circuit Judge Edward L. Hogshire was within his rights to ban cameras from George W. Huguely V's sentencing hearing in August 2012, the Virginia Supreme Court announced Thursday. The high court found that a suit challenging Hoghire's decision to block NBC29 from broadcasting the high-profile proceedings could not overcome a provision in state code granting trial judges sole discretion over electronic media coverage in their courtrooms.
Daily Progress
full text of the opinion

In another blow to the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors’ fight for Christian public prayer, afederal judge has denied the board’s request for a stay in the case. U.S. Circuit Court Judge Michael Urbanski handed down the decision Thursday afternoon. The board had filed the request for a stay in U.S. District Court in Danville in the hopes that the future outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court case involving public prayer, town of Greece (N.Y.) v. Galloway, might turn the tables in supervisors’ favor. A motion for a stay is a request for delay or a temporary halt of a case or proceeding. The board, through its attorney in the case, State Sen. Bill Stanley, argued that the Galloway case “is very similar in nature to the case at bar.” Also, questions in that case “bear particular relevance on the final disposition of this case.”
Register & Bee

National Stories

Two relatives of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre are telling members of a Connecticut panel they don't want the 911 tapes from that day released to the public. Bill Sherlach, whose wife, Mary, was killed on Dec. 14, said Wednesday that no one needs to hear the sounds from that day. He said there could be a compromise, such as providing a written transcription.
Huffington Post

Since CNET first broke news about Google's connection to a mystery structure atop a barge in the San Francisco Bay last week, the Coast Guard has said almost nothing about the project. Now, information obtained from the Coast Guard by The Day Connecticut through a Freedom of Information Act request suggests that the structures aboard the mystery barges -- one in San Francisco Bay and another in Portland, Maine -- are meant to be moved from city to city. On Wednesday, the Coast Guard told CNBC that Google is behind the project -- which CNET has also confirmed with the National Park Service and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. But it has had little if anything to say to anyone else.

A California judge who ordered a prominent plaintiffs attorney to take down information about courtroom victories from her website during trial committed an unconstitutional prior restraint on freedom of speech, the Second District Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday. Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderle may have understandably been concerned that jurors who searched for lawyer Simona Farrise on the Internet would find information about other asbestos verdicts against the same automobile parts makers she was suing. But ordering Farrise to remove two pages from her website for the duration of trial "was more extensive than necessary to advance the competing public interest in assuring a fair trial," Justice Steven Perren wrote in Steiner v. Superior Court (Volkswagen). Instead, juror admonitions not to Google the lawyers in the case "were the presumptively adequate means of addressing the threat of jury contamination in this case."
The Recorder


Virginian-Pilot: Since before 9/11, the nation's intelligence apparatus has been increasingly aggressive and broad-reaching in its pursuit of protection. That effort has run headlong into bedrock American values. Given the entirely appropriate outrage that has met the NSA revelations, it's well past time for the nation's leaders to revisit the inadequate controls exercised on the nation's guardians.

Dick Hammerstrom, Free Lance-Star: Virginia Tech President Charles Steger is the latest Virginia higher educational official to whine about how the state’s open-government laws somehow create a hardship on his ability to govern the university. More specifically, Steger said the statute’s restriction—he can’t meet with more than two members of the board of visitors without giving public notice—inhibits him from having private discussions about educational matters. People named to lofty state boards should be reminded that they are serving the public and thus become responsible to the public as well. To say that candid discussions about public matters should take place in private is antithetical to the very purpose of serving in government.