Friday, January 08, 2010

A grant to the National Freedom of Information Coalition will pay for FOIA lawsuits

"An online survey was sent to all NFOIC member coalitions, and the results were convincing: When asked whether, in the past five years, the number of open government lawsuits filed by the news media in their state had fallen to varying degrees, 60 percent of groups, or 23 states, reported that litigation had “fallen dramatically.” Another eight states reported that litigation had fallen slightly, meaning that nearly 80 percent of respondent coalitions reported decreasing litigation levels.

More ominously, 85 percent of respondents said that they expected FOI litigation to decline more dramatically in the next three years. The open-ended responses really tell the tale here, as coalition members all said that they expect the slowdown in litigation to worsen in the immediate future. And it’s not just litigation: many of the responses indicated an unwillingness by the news media in their state to even turn to the lawyers for an angry letter demanding access to information that clearly is public.

"We don’t even ask anymore for some papers to get the lawyers to call the city attorneys or write a letter, because they won’t authorize the $250 it will cost," one respondent said.

One major law firm in the state of Florida has seen its fees invested in access issues drop from $300,000 in 2008 to less than $225,000 this year.

A media attorney in Texas reported that litigation activity on FOI is "way, way down."
Read more
Location Oakland, Ca - Private Investigator