Thursday, September 30, 2004

Regional school committee violated open meeting law

When the Groton Dunstable Regional School Committee went into executive session to choose names for its new middle schools, it violated the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law, the Boston Globe reports in an article by correspondent Susan Ware. Concerned that debate about naming a school after environmental activist Marion Stoddart might prove embarrassing to Stoddart, the School Committee decided to discuss the matter in a closed session. But the Open Meeting Law, Ware writes:
"clearly defines topics that can be discussed in executive sessions, such as official misconduct, contract negotiations, and land purchases. The naming of public buildings does not fall within the guidelines. When the committee checked with District Attorney Martha Coakley's office, it was informed of the error, according to School Committee chairman Alan Vervaeke."
Vervaeke, the Globe reported, said the district attorney's office told him there would be no penalties for the error.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

U.S. concedes error in forcing erasure of Scalia's speech

From the Associated Press, via
"The government has conceded that the U.S. Marshals Service violated federal law when a marshal ordered reporters with The Associated Press and the Hattiesburg American to erase their recordings of a speech by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

"The Justice Department also said the reporters and their employers are each entitled to $1,000 in damages and reasonable attorney fees, which had been sought by the media organizations."

Friday, September 03, 2004

Confidentiality is 'essential,' news media tell judge

From AP, via

"WASHINGTON — Journalists need protection from having to reveal confidential sources if they are to keep the public informed, news organizations argued in a newly unsealed court filing.

"U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan agreed to the release of the papers, filed last week in the case of reporters from The New York Times and The Washington Post, who have been called to testify before a grand jury investigating the leak of the identity of a covert CIA officer.

"Hogan has already rejected claims that the First Amendment protects journalists and other organizations from having to testify as part of the investigation into who in the Bush administration leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame."