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Bill to exempt certain judicial records from FOIA withdrawn

A controversial bill that sought to exempt administrative records of the judiciary from Virginia's public records law has been withdrawn by its sponsor.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford, moved to strike his bill from the Senate floor Wednesday.

The bill said the Supreme Court's Office of the Executive Secretary would be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

A district court judge last year found that the office violated FOIA by not responding to letters from a citizen who wants access to records of the office's long-distance phone calls and expense accounts used by judges.

Advocates of open government opposed Stuart's bill, saying it could make it impossible for the public to obtain records related to judicial contracts, criminal justice reforms or office expenditures.

Comments


This was a critical development.

The Virginia Coalition for an Open Gov’t worked very hard to draw attention to this issue along with the Daily Press from the Norfolk area (they lost a Virginia Sup Court case to get aggregated data last year).  Some ex-prosecutor who sits on the FOIA Council (but missed 9 of 10 meetings, I kid you not) was trying to hide judicial records from the public.  It is literally the Manchurian candidate.  And he was fully supported by the Virginia Supreme Court who promised to some day, you know, write rules about what they would let the people see.  Corruption upon corruption.

In other open gov’t news, it appears the bill to allow LCPS board members avoid disclosing their conflicts (such as voting on raises for their spouses) will go down.  But it was a bi-partisan effort at blocking such transparency from the public.  Democrat Kathleen Murphy and Republican Dick Black teamed up to try to hide such conflicts from the public.  It’s a good thing legislators outside of Loudoun worked together to kill it.

Another bill killed in committee was one that would allow social media comments to be excluded from FOIA.  Remember the lawsuit I had against Senator Dunnavant?  Well, apparently, a bunch of legislators filed a bill to exempt social media posts and comments from being “public records”.  Dick Black was once again in full support of hiding these records from the public.

We pay these people.  They have discussions (whether by email, text, social media, etc.) about issues that affect us.  Yet many of them want to hide their double-dealing and sweetheart deals from the public.  If we don’t make these factors in our political races, we will continue to have more info hidden from us.  And once again, Loudoun often leads the way in corruption and the lack of transparency.

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