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TRANSPARENCY IN THE TIME OF COVID-19 PUBLIC RECORDS EDITION


April 15, 2020 Public Records, Uncategorized

Continuing on the theme of government transparency and how you get the information you need to cover the developing COVID-19 crisis, I have outlined here some principles to remember.  Email first@smvt.com to request a sample letter you can use to … Continued

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TRANSPARENCY IN THE TIME OF COVID-19 OPEN MEETINGS LAW EDITION


April 15, 2020 Uncategorized

I want to begin with my gratitude for the vital and hard work that you all have been doing to report on the coronavirus crisis.  Personally, I check five or six news websites about every hour to see what has … Continued

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FFR: Fourth Circuit Reverses Gag Order


October 29, 2018 Uncategorized

Some of you have been following ongoing federal court litigation related to North Carolina hog farms.  All of you, however, should take note of a 4th Circuit Ruling handed down today reversing a gag order entered in those cases. Judge Britt, … Continued

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FIRST FOR A REASON: ACCESS TO PERSONNEL INFORMATION


October 30, 2017 Uncategorized

FFR received an inquiry about the specifics of the statement in last week’s post that “The law is very narrow with regard to what personnel information is public.  However, almost all personnel statutes permit the public agency to release personnel … Continued

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FIRST FOR A REASON: OPEN COURTS, OPEN MEETINGS & PUBLIC RECORDS


October 30, 2017 Uncategorized

Access To Court Proceedings And Court Records In addition to the cases that recognize a Constitutional right of access to court files and court proceedings, North Carolina’s Constitution provides that all courts shall be open. C. Const. art. I, § … Continued

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FIRST FOR A REASON: THE REPORTER’S PRIVILEGE


October 19, 2017 Uncategorized

North Carolina has a robust reporter’s privilege.  G.S. § 8-53.11.  8-53-1  The privilege applies regardless of whether information is confidential or nonconfidential, published or not published and applies to all aspects of a news operation. A journalist can waive the … Continued

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FIRST FOR A REASON: COURT ORDERS RELEASE OF POLICE VIDEO


October 9, 2017 Uncategorized

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth a million.  Until a year ago, though, the law with regard to law enforcement videos was muddy.  Some departments took the position that video (particularly of officer-involved … Continued

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Can We Talk? Getting Information from Sources Who May Be Breaking the Law


July 24, 2017 Uncategorized

If asked whether a reporter faces liability for asking a source to provide information that legally is secret, most media lawyers will answer:  “No, it’s never illegal to ask questions.  You may not bribe, coerce or hack … but just … Continued

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Take That Down! Expunged Records and Newspaper Archives


July 17, 2017 Uncategorized

Have you gotten a call or letter or email from a lawyer saying his client’s record has been expunged, and so the story you posted last year no longer is accurate?  The lawyer wants you to take it down.  What … Continued

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