Securing Enforcement of Freedom of Information Act Rights
When the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting’s newsgathering outlet Reveal was denied access to certain criminal file records, the Center called on Hinckley Allen for help. The nationally broadcast public radio show, podcast, and internet news platform plays a vital role to assist the nonprofit’s investigative reporting efforts.
Reveal wanted access to police records that contained information about a young Sacred Heart University student convicted and jailed for falsely reporting a sexual assault in 2016, to be used for a documentary on prosecutions for false reporting of sexual assaults.
Reveal sent a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request to a Connecticut Police Department, which denied a portion of the request, claiming the records at issue were exempt from the FOIA. Reveal appealed to the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission (“FOIC”), the administrative agency that hears FOIA appeals in Connecticut before they can be brought in court. After an evidentiary hearing, the FOIC held that all of the records were nonexempt public records within the meaning of the FOIC and, therefore, should be disclosed. Thereafter, Reveal appealed the decision to the Superior Court, where we convinced the court to uphold the FOIC’s decision and order the City to disclose of the majority of requested records.
Hinckley Allen’s FOIA litigation work for media entities helps ensure they have access guaranteed by the First Amendment to materials necessary to carry on their important work in keeping the public informed.