The Massachusetts Secretary of State's Office has done an about face and decided that police mug shots do not have to be provided to the public under the state's public records law. Last year, the office ruled that mug shots are public records in most cases.
The most recent ruling came in an appeal filed by the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton. The newspaper had asked the Northampton Police Department to release the arrest booking photo of W. Michael Ryan, a former Northampton District Court judge who was arrested and then acquitted of charges of assault and battery on a police officer and disorderly conduct.
The Secretary of State's Office ruled that the police department has discretion to withhold the mug shots under the Criminal Offender Records Information Law.