Brechner report
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090012/00135
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Title: Brechner report
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, College of Journalism and communications, University of Florida
Publisher: Brechner Center for Freedom of Information
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: March 2011
Genre: serial   ( sobekcm )
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Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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System ID: UF00090012:00135


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Volume 35, Number 3 m A monthly report of mass media law in Florida
Published by The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information U College of Journalism and Communications U University of Florida
March 2011

Florida Bar considers limits on citizen journalists

TALLAHASSEE A proposed contains an exception for "professional
Florida Bar rule that would allow judges journalists." The definition of a
to ban certain types of journalists from professional journalist comes from the
using cameras, recording state's shield law, which limits
devices and cell phones C O U RT S journalists to those paid by
in courtrooms has drawn L. 1 traditional media outlets.
objections from media and The Florida Press
open government groups. Association, Florida First Amendment
Proposed Rule 2.451 deals with Foundation, Florida Association of
electronic devices in the courtroom and Broadcasters and Reporters Committee

Capital reporters decry limits on

access by new Gov. Rick Scott
TALLAHASSEEE Members of the that reporters never agreed to a pooling
capital press corps are concerned about arrangement. Reporters also complain
new Gov. Rick Scott's treatment of the that records requests often went
press, voicing their concerns to the board unanswered.
of the Florida Society of News Editors. During an appearance at a meeting
Reporters complained that ST hosted by The
Scott excluded the press I Associated Press a
from events traditionally Capitol, Scott insis
open, has been slow to AMEND IENT that his administral
respond to public records had been transparent.
requests and has tried to hand pick said that staffers were processing pub
reporters to cover events, records requests as quickly as possible
A post-inauguration reception at the Scott defended his mandate that ag
state Capitol was limited to a select heads refrain from speaking to the pre

few reporters, with a pooled report to
be released, according to Mary Ellen
Klas of The Miami Herald. Klas said



saying they need to focus on agency
matters rather than give media interviews.
Source: The Associated Press

AGO weighs in on status of notes
TALLAHASSEE Handwritten notes The AGO opinion states that "public
were the subject of a recent advisory employees' notes to themselves which
opinion from the Florida Attorney are designed for their own personal use in
General's Office. Venice City Manager recollecting certain matters are not public
Isaac D. Turner requested the AGO records." The opinion also cautioned
opinion after the media asked A Turner that the longer the
for notes he took in connection AS notes were kept, the more
with a police chief's resignation. RECORDS likely that they would be
Turner took notes during considered documents
interviews with police department that would "perpetuate, communicate, or
personnel. He later somici lIui" formalize knowledge."
discussed the interviews when briefing After the AGO opinion was handed
city council members on the issue, down, Turner shredded his notes.
according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune

for Freedom of the Press objected to the
proposed rule, worrying that it would
exclude a large group of journalists such
as freelancers, book authors, citizen
bloggers and Web-based journalists.
Comments submitted to the bar will
be reviewed by the subcommittee. No
timeframe has been set for further
consideration of the rule.
Source: The Miami Herald

Media wins

bid for access

to witness list
ORLANDO The Orlando Sentinel
prevailed in its efforts to obtain the
names of witnesses who would testify
in the penalty phase of Casey Antho-
ny's murder trial.
Anthony, 24, is accused of killing
her 2-year-old daughter in 2008. Her
trial is set to begin in May. If Anthony
is found guilty, a second phase of the
trial would occur where jurors would
recommend life in prison or the death
Chief Judge Belvin Perry denied the
defense's motion to keep the witness
list sealed. Judge Perry rejected the ar-
gument that releasing the names would
affect Anthony's constitutional right to
a fair trial.
"To the contrary, many potential
penalty phase witnesses are presumably
already known to the public at large and
are already associated with this case,"
Perry wrote in a four-page opinion.
"Release of any known individual's
name could not possibly deprive the
defendant of her fair trial rights."
The list of witnesses released
included family, friends, ex-boyfriends
and others already associated with the
Source: Orlando Sentinel

BRECHNER Non-Profit Organization
REPORT erit No. 94
University of Florida Gainesville, FL
Brechner Center for Freedom of Information
3208 Weimer Hall, P.O. Box 118400
Gainesville, FL 32611
March 2011


Transparency key when taxpayer money is at stake
A look at the recent Sunshine Law case against for Sunshine and Sarasota Citizens for Responsible
Sarasota County provides a window into the difficulties Government filed suit against the City and County
of preserving transparency when government activities of Sarasota in December 2009, alleging violations of
are shielded from public view. Florida's Constitution the Sunshine Law. The citizens groups claimed the
and Sunshine Law give citizens access to the entire county's violations were serious and that commissioners
deliberative process of Florida government. Such access delegated their powers to negotiate millions for economic
is critical when decisions are being made about the use of development to a team of unelected or unappointed
public funds. The process that led to Sarasota County's individuals, and the public was kept in the dark about
$50-million spring training deal was the focus of a lawsuit the substance of their meetings and the composition of
brought by two citizens groups. The case and subsequent Cathy Antunes the team. The trial court, however, ruled in favor of the
Florida Supreme Court decision highlight the potential for county and the citizens groups appealed.
increased government secrecy when negotiating with millions The appeal received support from the Knight FOI Litigation
from the public treasury. Fund and the First Amendment Foundation. As the First
The county and the public have long been at odds about the Amendment Foundation stated in its friend-of-the-court brief
plan to bring a baseball team to Sarasota for spring training, to the Florida Supreme Court: "Unless this Court upholds the
In 2007, voters in the City of constitutional right of citizens to attend meetings of an EDA
The Sarasota defeated a proposed (economic development agency), including its negotiations, the
B ack P age property tax increase to pay for increasing subsidization of private enterprises and privatization
By Cathy Antunes stadium renovations to retain of governmental operations will have the effect of rendering the
the Cincinnati Reds. In 2008, Sunshine Law meaningless." The FAF was also "quite troubled
Sarasota County planned to move the local fairgrounds to a local with the e-mail from Mr. Bullock to the attorney for the Orioles in
park to make way for new baseball stadium. Hundreds of children which he reported that he had privately briefed commissioners on
play baseball at the public park and the disruption of youth sports the status of negotiations and encouraged them not to discuss the
was met with public outrage. The county quickly backed off matter in any detail at the public meetings." The Supreme Court
the proposal. In 2009, county efforts to raise money for stadium determined that Mr. Bullock acted as an information gatherer and
renovations by way of city-issued bonds re-paid with county his team was not an official board or commission. Therefore, they
tourist tax revenue were abandoned when watchdog groups were not subject to the Sunshine Law.
challenged the plan. County officials remained determined to The Supreme Court's determination that Sarasota's spring
reach a spring training deal. In early 2009, Sarasota City and training negotiating team was a "fact finding" group provides a
County had failed to negotiate a deal with three different teams. !h:.v I.l" manual for side-stepping the Sunshine Law appoint
Public opposition had been a decisive factor in those failures, staff and privately tap favored citizens to negotiate a deal without
A new strategy emerged. Commissioners appointed county making them members of an official agency or board: Give them
staff (led by Deputy County Administrator David Bullock) and the responsibility for economic development discussions but none
unofficially designated a number of private citizens (leaders of of the accountability, discuss a bit of the deal in public, unveil the
the Chamber of Commerce) to privately conduct spring training finished product on the day of the vote and approve it before the
negotiations. The Orioles agreement was approved on July 22, public has an opportunity to understand and weigh in.
2009. In addition to the public being unaware of the members of Unfortunately, information delayed is open government denied.
the negotiating team, citizen groups were concerned about the
extent of the authority assigned to the negotiators. Who was truly Cathy Antunes is founder of the non-profit Sarasota Citizens
determining the fate of public assets-commissioners in open for Responsible Government, one of the two citizen group
meetings or the negotiating team behind closed doors? Citizens plaintiffs. She has resided in Sarasota County since 1999.


Plaintiffs in "Girls Gone Wild" suit get anonymity

ATLANTA- The 11th Circuit Court
of Appeals has ruled that two of four
plaintiffs in a lawsuit against "Girls Gone
Wild" producer Joe Francis can remain
The women were between the ages
of 13 and 17 when they allege Francis
exploited them by filming them in
Panama City. They are now in their 20s
and filed a civil lawsuit against Francis in
2008, using only their initials.
Federal trial Judge Richard Smoak

rejected the request to file anonymously,
prompting an appeal to the 11th Circuit.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that
keeping their names private would protect
them from unnecessary embarrassment
and discrimination. Media attorneys
argued that reporting and fact-checking
would be inhibited if the plaintiffs
remained anonymous.
A three-judge panel for the 11th
Circuit ruled that the two plaintiffs who
were filmed in sexual acts could remain

anonymous. The panel encouraged the
trial court to reconsider the anonymity
requests of the other two plaintiffs, who
were filmed flashing their breasts in their
"The district court failed to give due
consideration to the concerns the plaintiffs
raised about being forced to maintain the
suits in their own names," Chief Judge
Joel Dubina wrote in the opinion. "Justice
should not carry such a high price."
Source: The Associated Press

Judge orders red light names released to paper

KENNETH CITY A circuit judge
has ordered Kenneth City and its red-light
camera company to hand over names of
violators to the St. Petersburg Times.
Kenneth City hired American Traffic
Solutions Inc. to install and monitor
red light cameras at three of its five
intersections with traffic lights. ATS

would not release the information for
fear of violating the
federal Drivers Privacy A C C E
Protection Act. -- -iL
"There is... clear RECORD,
evidence that the law
was not intended to shield people from
public access to information about their

traffic infractions," Pinellas-Pasco Circuit
Judge Anthony Rondolino
S wrote in his ruling. Rondolino
noted that the Drivers Privacy
S Protection Act specifically
exempts information about
Source: St. Petersburg Times

Activist sues Riviera Beach, alleges secret meeting

RIVIERA BEACH Fane Lozman, Lozman alleges the council met
vocal critic of the City of Riviera Beach, publicly nine days later and formally
has filed another open government voted to place the
lawsuit against the city. The suit A C C E SS questions on a March
alleges the city council members ballot. Lozman wants
violated the Open Meetings Law MEETINGS to block the questions
when they met in a closed meeting from being placed on
to discuss whether questions would be the ballot.
placed on a March ballot. City Attorney Pamala Ryan denied

a violation of the Open Meetings Law
occurred, stating that discussions during
the Jan. 10 meeting were related to
pending litigation.
Lozman was recently awarded $85,000
in legal fees after successfully suing
the city for records of agenda review
Source: The Palm Beach Post

Prosecutors: No case against Bert Fish board

Attorney's Office will not pursue charges
against hospital board members who held
21 meetings improperly closed to the
public. The five-month investigation by
State Attorney R.J. Larizza resulted in
a finding that Bert Fish Medical Center
board members unintentionally violated
the law.
"We were looking to see if these folks

knew they really shouldn't be doing
this there was no evidence of that,"
Larizza said. "There are (Sunshine Law)
exemptions unique to hospital boards it's
not cut and dried."
During the board's closed meetings,
it voted to merge with Adventist Health
System. It held a second set of meetings
last year and again decided to merge with
Adventist Health System.

Attorney Jon Kaney, who represents
a nonprofit foundation challenging
the merger, disagreed with Larizza's
determination. "We depend on that office
to enforce the Sunshine Law," Kaney
said, according to The Daytona Beach
News-Journal. "What I see is studied
indifference (to the law)."
Source: The Daytona Beach News-

U.S. Supreme Court declines $5M Fla. libel case

Court has declined to hear the appeal of
a $5 million punitive damages case in a
Florida defamation case. Dr. Samuel H.
Sadow sued Lawnwood Medical Center,
Inc. for slander.
A jury awarded Sadow $5 million in

punitive damages based on the accusation Court of Appeal, who last summer upheld
that a hospital official had remarked the award. Both the
that Sadow was "not qualified to L IB E L Florida Supreme Court
perform surgery on a dog." No I and now the U.S. Supreme
compensatory damages were Court declined to hear the
awarded, case.
Lawnwood appealed to the 4th District Source: The Associated Press

2 The Brechner Report U March 2011


Rival sues for

campaign libel
Beach County commissioner is suing
a former campaign rival for libel
over a document distributed during
the campaign. Commissioner Jess
Santamaria alleges that the 118-
page request for an investigation of
Santamaria, sent to state and county
officials and the media, contained
defamatory statements that damaged his
Andy Schaller, a no party candidate,
ran against Santamaria in the November
election. In the inquiry request,
Schaller questioned Santamaria's
criminal background, among other
issues. Schaller cited a 1991 felony
conviction of Jesus R. Santamaria
and asked "Does Santamaria have a
felony record?" according to The Palm
Beach Post. Santamaria has never been
arrested and argues that the document
falsely portrays him has having a
criminal record.
Palm Beach County Inspector Sheryl
Steckler conducted a three-month
investigation following the inquiry
request. She dismissed the allegations
but noted that Santamaria improperly
discarded monthly pocket calendars
that should have been kept as public
Source: The Palm Beach Post

Brechner Center for Freedom of Information
3208 Weimer Hall, PO Box 118400
College of Journalism and Communications
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-8400
http //www brechner org
e-mail brechnerreport@jou ufl edu
Sandra F. Chance, J.D., Exec. Director/Exec. Editor
Christina M. Locke, J.D., Editor
Alana Kolifrath, Production Coordinator
Warren Tillery, Production Assistant
The BrechnerReport is published 12 times a
year under the auspices of the University of Florida
Foundation The Brechner Report is ajoint effort
of The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information,
the University of Florida College of Journalism and
Communications, the Florida Press Association,
the Florida Association of Broadcasters, the Florida
Society of Newspaper Editors and the Joseph L
Brechner Endowment

House panel seeks FOIA info to

gauge transparency efforts

WASHINGTON The new leader of
the House Oversight and Government
Reform Committee wants details of every
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
request made by citizens, journalists,
executives and others for the past five
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., requested
the documents as part of an effort to gauge
President Barack Obama's promise of
increased governmental transparency.

The voluminous request-approximately
600,000 FOIA requests were made last
year-was made in hopes of making
sure that "all federal agencies respond
in a timely, substantive and non-
discriminatory manner."
If individuals did not receive the
records as requested, Issa also requested
correspondence between government
officials and requesters.
Source: The Associated Press

WSJ sues for Medicare data

ORLANDO -The Wall Street Journal's
parent company is suing for access to
Medicare information that has been kept
private for the past 31 years.
In 1979, the American Medical
Association won a federal lawsuit in
Florida banning the release of how much
Medicare funds individual doctors receive.
"There is no legally supportable
justification for maintaining a sweeping
and obsolete injunction that for over thirty
years has prevented the American public
from knowing the true extent of Medicare
waste, abuse and fraud," Dow Jones &

Company, Inc. argued in its court filing.
The American Medical Association,
however, still opposes the release of
the information, fearing that the data
would lead to misleading conclusions.
"Physicians who provide care to Medicare
patients are already subject to widespread
governmental oversight," AMA President
Dr. Cecil Wilson said in a statement.
"These federal agencies and contractors
have access to the full range of Medicare
data and are aggressively ferreting out
improper claims."
Source: The Associated Press




Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the
importance of open government and freedom of information is March
13-19, 2011. Show your support for open government by asking elected
officials to sign the Brechner Center's Open Government Pledge.
To learn more about the program and download the pledge, visit

The Brechner Report U March 2011