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CH12 - Ch 12Access to Information The Right To Know Access...

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Ch. 12—Access to Information The Right To Know Access: Courtrooms v. Court Documents S. C…reporters/public have strong right to attend most court proceedings S. C….NO strong First Amendment rights to access most court documents… Access to Court Docs: Common Law Rights Traditionally, press/public had common law access to records/docs introduced at trial But, under common law right judge may conclude press does not have right of access to certain court material judge can modify common law precedent to fit circumstances… Access to Court Docs: 1st Amendment Rights (limited) Blanket 1st Am. right applied to court docs means judges have greater burden to justify withholding info No blanket right exists. Example: S. C…discovery process not open to public; reporters not entitled to special access. Courts may seal records away from public view Courts grant 1st Am. access to certain court docs Example: One court decided reporters could examine docs that guide judges in sentencing; access probation reports when convict is freed from prison 9th Circuit Court: public has interest learning more about sentencing decisions… Court Docs Online Example Cole County Missouri Case Right of Access to Govt Docs 1930s: Congress forms many administrative agencies & organizations (e.g., FCC)
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Congress gives agencies power to develop internal rules—rules of great importance to citizens/reporters Some agencies not open about operations… Freedom of Information Act (1967) Congress responds to lack of openness in govt: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) FOIA: applies to all federal govt agencies except Congress, courts, president and his immediate advisers. Does not apply to state govts (some states have equivalent laws) Freedom of Information Act—Benefits Reporters, Public Since passage, FOIA allows reporters to uncover information otherwise not available Benefits PR/business—corps may request docs that affect business and dealings of competitors (some restrictions)… FOIA applies to agencies (FCC, FTC , NASA), departments (Natl Weather Service) and govt controlled corporations of executive branch (Postal Service, Smithsonian) Organizations receiving federal funds but not under direct federal govt control ( Corp. for Public Broadcasting ; American Red Cross) NOT subject to FOIA… What Must Agencies do to Comply with the FOIA? Agencies must explain procedures to obtain records and agency contacts FOIA defines record: non-exempt information (some exceptions) held by govt agencies… What is an Agency “Record” Nearly anything in documentary form: text material (paper docs), film, data stored on computers, video and audio material, and photographs… How Do I Know Where to Find Govt Records?
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