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Thursday, May 11, 2006
Delaware's Restrictions on Freedom of Information in Federal Court Today
A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request is an interesting beast. Sometimes it's the only way to get information in a timely manner from a government agency.
There's a Federal Act for the Federal Government, and individual Freedom of Information Act requests for the states. After working for the courts in Delaware for a number of years, I saw more than a couple of Federal Freedom of Information Act requests directed at Delaware agencies. I can't tell you how they were treated ultimately, since I was responsible for passing those along, instead of making any decisions at all upon them. But, ideally FOIA requests for State Information should follow the state law governing it.
There's an issue with Delaware's Freedom of Information Act that presently has a review of the law in Federal Court right now. It was only available to residents of the State of Delaware, when a Federal District Court Judge decided that the restriction to state residents was inappropriate and unconstitutional.
In a State like Delaware, where so many Fortune 500 companies are incorporated, it's likely that information requests made to Delaware's Government will arrive from residents of other states. The request at the heart of this dispute involved an activist who had questions regarding a merger of two financial companies. His request was denied because he lived in New York. He brought the case to Federal court, where that limitation was removed.
The Delaware Department of Justice appealed that decision, and a three judge panel held oral arguments on the issue. Is this type of restriction an unconstitutional limitation on interstate commerce? See: Judges skeptical of Delaware's limits on public records access.
I don't understand the restriction myself. Maybe someone could articulate a reason for it to me. It sounds like the judges asking the Delaware Attorney present were having problems with that, too.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Common Cause Forum to Discuss Family Court Records
A forum hosted by the Delaware branch of Common Cause tomorrow will take a close look at Delaware's Family Court, their secrecy, and some allegations involving record keeping in the Court.
The meeting will be held at the Dover Public Library, located at 45 South State Street, Dover, Delaware. It begins at noon.
The Delaware Court Reform Initiative will also be involved in the meeting.
Testimony received at the meeting tomorrow will be forwarded to the State's Family Law Commission, for their meeting on Thursday, so if you attend and would like to speak, you may want to bring a copy or your testimony on paper so that it can be forwarded to the State agency.
Delaware Watch has a copy of the Press Release issued by Common Cause about the meeting.
(note: Issues with our Blogger software caused the posting of this message to be delayed a number of days, and after the forum meeting. The Wilmington News Journal reported on the meeting on Tuesday, and around 35 people attended, many of them bringing stories with them of their court events in Family Court. The Family Law Commission meeting is today, and maybe some of the testimony from Monday's forum will persuade a reaction of some type. Apologies for the delay.)