Group Title: Annual freedom of information report, the Brechner Center at the University of Florida
Title: Annual freedom of information report
Full Citation
Permanent Link:
 Material Information
Title: Annual freedom of information report
Series Title: Annual freedom of information report
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Brechner Center for Freedom of Information
Publisher: Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2006
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090021
Volume ID: VID00005
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


This item has the following downloads:

brechannualrept2006 ( PDF )

Full Text

Published by The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information College of Journalism and Communications 0 University of Florida

Detainee investigation wins Brechner award

GAINESVILLE A groundbreaking, the 2005 series revealed psychological
detailed series by The Associated pressures and harsh conditions for the
Press that examined the treatment and approximately 520 male, terrorist suspects,
prosecution of detainees at Guantanamo from 40 countries, held at the secretive
Bay was named the winner of the 2006 U.S. detention camp.
Joseph L. Brechner --The series was
Freedom of Information BRECHNERrecognized with a
Award. $3,000 prize at the
"Guantanamo AWARD 2006 21st Annual Brechner

Exposed" was written
by Associated Press writer Paisley Dodds,
who now serves as the bureau chief in
London. Dodds has covered Guantanamo
Bay since the U.S. opened the detainee
camp in 2002. Taking a look back
during the camp's third year in existence,

Center for Freedom of
Information award celebration on Nov. 13.
The U.S. government released to
The Associated Press nearly 3,000
pages of documents under a Freedom
of Information lawsuit. The documents
- with names and city, village and country

names redacted account for nearly
100 testimonies at secretive tribunal
proceedings where detainees complained
there was no evidence against them and
alleged abuse at the prison camp.
The series also found that detainees
were coerced into confessions and
were subjected to female interrogators
using sexual tactics to weaken Muslim
The annual award was established by
the late Joseph L. Brechner, an Orlando
broadcaster. Previous award winners
include: the San Francisco Chronicle, The
Washington Post, the St. Petersburg Times,
and The Dallas Morning News.

Reporters face jail, fines for shielding sources

Reporters and news organizations
fighting to maintain confidential sources
were hit with criminal and financial
penalties in 2006, although Congress did
attempt to pass a federal shield law.
The federal government and five news
organizations will pay $1.6 million to a
former nuclear weapons scientist once
suspected of being a spy. Wen Ho Lee
settled his privacy lawsuit, in which he
accused the government of violating his
privacy rights by leaking information to
the press.
The settlement will also end contempt
of court proceedings against five
reporters who refused to disclose their

sources for stories ab
investigation. The A
New York Times, the
The Washington Pos
agreed to pay Lee $7
"We were reluctai
anything to this
settlement, but
we sought relief
in the courts and
found none," the
companies said in a
rulings of the federal
and the absence of a
decided this was the
our sources and to pr

Secret docket inquiries
TALLAHASSEE In the wake of since 1989. Current
several news stories about secret dockets hearing prior to seali
and sealed cases in state courts, the Florida After The Herald
Supreme Court is poised to newspaper
adopt new rules for sealing C O U R T S cases in H
cases. Pinellas, I
The Miami Herald first Sarasota c
drew attention to Broward County, where The Florida Assoc
more than 400 civil cases have been sealed and Comptrollers sul

out Lee's espionage Two San Francisco Chronicle reporters
associated Press, The were ordered to jail for refusing to
LosAngeles Times, reveal who gave them secret grand jury
t and ABC have testimony from an investigation into
50,000. illegal steroid distribution by the Bay Area
nt to contribute Laboratory Co-Operative.
SREP RTERS Lance Williams and
REP O RTER Mark Fainaru-Wada
PRIVILEGE wrote several articles and
a book based in part on
transcripts of testimony
statement. "Given the by baseball players Barry Bonds, Jason
courts in Washington Giambi and others.
federal shield law, we The reporters'jail sentence has been
best course to protect suspended pending an appeal to the 9t
*otect ourjournalists." U.S. Circuit of Appeals.

prompt rule change
rules do not require a proposed rules, which would require
ng a case. judges to hold a hearing and give advance
stories, other public notice prior to sealing a case.
rs reported on sealed Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis asked
[illsborough, Pasco, Florida's 20 chief judges to review
Palm Beach and sealed cases in their circuits. The Florida
counties Bar's Rules of Judicial Administration
nation of Court Clerks Committee expedited its recommendations
emitted to the justices regarding the new rules at Lewis' request.

Annual FOIReport U 2006





Informal Opinion: This depends on
whether such staff are the designated
records custodian or have custody of
the public record in certain cases. The
question would likely have to be resolved
by the courts in a particular situation.
Electronic discussion boards: What
are the implications of the Sunshine Law
on the use of an electronic discussion
board to conduct public meetings?
Informal Opinion: The use of an
electronic bulletin board to discuss matters
that may foreseeably come before a public
body over an extended period of time
would not comply with the spirit or letter

Attorney General issues several
TALLAHASSEE Attorney General of the Sunshine Law.
Charlie Crist issued opinions this year Crash reports: Is the City of Maitland
on open government issues ranging from Fire Department authorized by Fla. Stat.
online discussion boards to the redaction 316.066 to receive a copy of a written
of litigation records. ( crash report prepared pursuant to that
Mediation discussions: May a closed section in order to request reimbursement
attorney-client session be held pursuant from the at-fault driver for a fee assessed
to the Sunshine Law to discuss settlement by the city?
negotiations on an issue that is the AGO 2006-11: Fla. Stat. 316.066
subject of ongoing does not authorize the release of written
mediation pursuant A T T O NT V crash reports to the
to a partnership 1 V I1 City of Maitland Fire
agreement GENERAL OPINIONS Department for the
between the water purposes of requesting
management district and others? reimbursement from
AGO 2006-03: A closed attorney- the at-fault driver in an accident for a
session may not be held pursuant to the fee assessed by the city. The Legislature
Sunshine Law to discuss these types of may wish to reconsider the provisions of
matters. The attorney general's office 316.066(3)(c) to address these concerns.
"cannot read an exception into the statute Simultaneous meetings: May the Joint
for pre-litigation mediation proceedings." Citizens Advisory Committee comply with
Utilities commission records: Are the Sunshine Law in holding its quarterly
records of the New Smyrna Beach Utilities meeting by linking simultaneous meetings
Commission that are furnished to the of citizens' advisory committees in each
Florida Department of Law Enforcement of its participating counties, networked
in the course of a criminal investigation via computers, conference call, video or
by the department exempt as criminal some other electronic media technology,
intelligence or criminal investigative so that all members of the committees
information? and the public can hear and participate at
AGO 2006-04: Such records are the meeting, when each committee has a
subject to disclosure even though some quorum present for its meeting?
of those records may have been provided AGO 2006-20: The Joint Citizens
to the FDLE in the course of a criminal Advisory Committee whose members
investigation. The utilities commission, are representatives from several county
however, may not identify which of its metropolitan planning organizations may
records have been provided to the FDLE use electronic media technology to link
while such records in the hands of the simultaneously held public meetings of
department constitute active criminal citizens' advisory committees allowing all
intelligence or investigative information, members of the committees and the public
Duties of a records custodian: to hear and participate at workshops.
Whether the Public Records Law imposes The use of electronic media technology,
a responsibility on "public relations staff' however, does not satisfy quorum
or other employees of an agency to make a requirements necessary for official action
good faith effort to locate documents, to be taken by the joint committee.

2 Annual FOIReport U 2006

Court records still under study
TALLAHASSEE Florida's cases in which a state agency is a party.
moratorium on electronic access to court Among other things, the justices are still
records will remain in effect while issues concerned with privacy, identity theft, fees
are studied further, according to a July for access and which Public Records Law
2006 order by the Florida Supreme Court. exemptions to apply to court records.
In the meantime, Manatee County will be The Committee on Privacy and Court
home to a one-year pilot project. Records submitted its final report and
The moratorium was imposed in 2003 recommendations to the court in August
and is set for review in July 2007. It 2005. The Court has ordered that a new
allows online access to dockets, calendars committee, the Committee on Access to
and certain records, such as those related Court Records, be formed to implement
to cases of "significant public interest" or and further study several recommendations.

access opinions
Redaction of litigation records: Does
the case of Johnson v. Deluz allow the
redaction of litigation records relating
to complaints by students against school
district administrators, teachers or other
employees for physical or sexual abuse so
that such records may be released absent
consent or court order?
AGO 2006-21: Litigation records are
public records that must be released after
student identifying information has been
Static Web site access: May a
municipality respond to a public records
request requiring the production of
thousands of documents by composing
a static Web page where the responsive
public documents are posted for
viewing if the requesting party agrees
to the procedures and agrees to pay the
administrative costs, in lieu of copying the
documents at a much greater cost?
AGO 2006-30: A municipality may
respond to such records requests by
establishing a static Web site.
Local advocacy councils: May
members of a local advocacy council,
who are attending a closed session of the
statewide advocacy council during the
discussion of one of the local council's
cases, remain during the entire closed
session of the statewide advocacy council
which is considering cases from other
advocacy councils unrelated to any of the
local advocacy council's cases?
AGO 2006-34: Members of a local
advocacy council, who are attending a
closed session of the statewide advocacy
council during the discussion of one of
the local council's cases, may not remain
in the closed session when the statewide
advocacy council is considering cases from
other advocacy councils that are unrelated
to the local advocacy council's cases.


Studies show access to information decreasing

Florida Public Records Audit: A are not required to offer their names, the
statewide public records audit by Florida audit found that names were demanded
news organizations revealed that 42 16 percent of the time. Eighteen percent
percent of local government agencies of the agencies required a form or written
audited violated the state's Public Records request before releasing records.
Law. AC E Agencies were given an
During a week in February C Chour to tell volunteers that
2006, volunteerjournalists STUDIES the records were public
posed as ordinary citizens and and when they would be
requested records from county available. Nearly 40 percent
governments, city hall, school boards and of the agencies took longer than an hour
sheriff's offices. Volunteers requested to provide that information.
e-mails from the county, city and school Access Legislation Since Sept. 11:
district officials and a log of incoming Public access to government records has
calls at law enforcement agencies. been steadily limited by states since the
Although requesters of public records Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to a

False light issue poised to go

before Florida Supreme Court

PENSACOLA Two appeals courts
have certified questions on the issue of
false light invasion of privacy to the
Florida Supreme Court.
The First District Court of Appeal
reversed an $18.28 million verdict against
the Pensacola News Journal, ruling that
the plaintiff's false light invasion of
privacy claim was governed by the two-
year statute of limitations for
defamation actions. FA
The First District, in
Gannett Co. Inc. v. Joe LIGH
Anderson Jr, certified the


question as one of great
importance and in conflict with Heekin v.
CBS Fi,.. ,1..0 Inc., a case from the
Second District.
Joe Anderson sued the News Journal
for false light in 2001, three years after
a story stated that he shot and killed his
wife. Two sentences later, the story stated
that the death had been ruled an accident.
Anderson initially sued for libel but
later amended his suit to sue for false light

invasion of privacy.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for
unspecified torts is four years. However,
the First District held that Anderson's
claims weren't materially distinguishable
from a defamation claim, so the two-year
statute of limitations applied.
Because Anderson did not file his suit
within the two-year period, his verdict was
SE The Fourth District,
SE in Rapp v. Jews for Jesus
Inc., certified the question
of whether the tort of false
light was even recognized in
Edith Rapp sued Jews for Jesus after
the organization published a newsletter in
which Rapp's stepson wrote that Rapp, a
Jew, had converted to Christianity.
The Fourth District allowed Rapp's
claims for false light invasion of privacy
and negligent supervision and retention to
proceed but recognized that there is "some
uncertainty in the area" of false light.

Center will celebrate 30 years
The Joseph L. Brechner Center for additional gift to the Marion Brechner
Freedom of Information will host a two- Citizen Access Project to fund a service
day conference in fall 2007 to celebrate to help respond to questions about open
its 30th anniversary. The event also will government legislation.
honor the 40th anniversaries of the federal "The conference will explore the issues
Freedom of Information Act and Florida's and challenges to freedom of information
Sunshine Law. and develop strategies for protecting the
Marion Brechner, wife of the late public's right to know, both in Florida and
Joseph L. Brechner, gave money to fund nationally," said Professor Sandra Chance,
the event. Mrs. Brechner also gave an executive director of the Brechner Center.

50-state study by The Associated Press.
Florida, however, has largely avoided this
The AP study found that legislatures
have passed more than 1,000 access laws
since the attacks. More than twice as many
laws that restrict information were passed
than those that offer greater access to
government information.
Florida has actually seen a reduction
in the number of open government
exemptions passed each year, according
to the AP. In the legislative session prior
to the terrorist attacks, 16 new exemptions
were passed in Florida. That total has not
been reached since the attacks.

Annual FOI Report U 2006 3

Chance named


FOI professor
The Brechner Center for Freedom
of Information's executive director has
been named the McClatchy Professor
in Freedom of Information.
Professor Sandra Chance has been
recognized nationally for her teaching,
research and scholarship in freedom of
information issues.
Chance has been the Center's
executive director since 2002 and a
member of the University of Florida
faculty since 1993.
"The need for education about
the importance of FOI has never
been greater," Chance said. "The
McClatchy Professorship will help us
significantly in meeting this need."
The McClatchy Company donated
$600,000 for the professorship.
Another $400,000 is expected to be
matched by the state. McClatchy
is the second-largest owner of
newspapers in the United States.
"Free people cannot exist
without free speech and freedom
of information," said Gary Pruitt,
chairman, president and CEO of
Dean Emerita Terry Hynes
expressed her appreciation for the
company's gift. "The professorship
enables us to extend and deepen
the impact of the College's work in
freedom of information," Hynes said.


Florida access statutes receive additional

exemptions during 2006 legislative session

TALLAHASSEE The following 10
bills enacted during the 2006 legislative
session create new exemptions to the state
Public Records and Open Meetings laws.
Copies of the legislation are available at
the Florida Legislature's Web site (www.
Chief sponsors of the bills are in
parentheses next to the bill numbers.

public records requirements. "Biometric"
is defined as any record of friction
ridge detail, fingerprints, palm prints
and footprints. The exemption applies
retroactively. (Adams, R-Oviedo)
CS/HB 1117 South Florida
Regional Transportation Authority:
Exempts certain documents related to
the acquisition of land by the South

Lawmakers Florida Regional
also enacted or T GISLATIV 7 Transportation
reenacted 30 otherE J J 1 t IV Authority until an

open government- SESSION RE
related laws.
HB 193 Court
Monitors: Creates a public record
exemption for a court order appointing a
court monitor and the monitor's reports
relating to the health or finances of a
ward. Confidentiality expires if a court
makes a finding of probable cause.
Also creates an exemption for court
determinations relating to a finding of no
probable cause and court orders finding
no probable cause. Such records may be
subject to inspection as determined by the
court. (Bogdanoff R-Fort Lauderdale)
HB 459 Donors Statewide Public
Guardianship Office: Allows donors
or prospective donors to the Statewide
Public Guardianship Office to remain
anonymous. (Sands, D-Weston)
CS/HB 605 Home Addresses
- DJJ Employees: Exempts the home
addresses, phone numbers and photos
of certain active or former Department
of Juvenile Justice employees from the
Public Records Law. Similar information
about employees' spouses and children is
also made exempt. (Planas, R-Miami)
CS/HB 687 Concealed Weapons
Permits: Creates an exemption for
identifying information of applicants
and recipients of concealed weapons
permits. Exempt information can be
disclosed to law enforcement agencies
and commercial entities for the purposes
of law enforcement or homeland security.
Disclosure is allowed under specific
circumstances, such as upon court
order and a showing of good cause. The
exemption applies retroactively. (Adams,
CS/HB 1001 Fingerprint ID
Information: Makes biometric
fingerprint information exempt from

PORT option contract is
executed or until
30 days before a
contract for purchase is considered for
approval by the authority. (Greenstein,
D-Coconut Creek)
CS/HB 1285 Innovation Incentive
Program: Expands the current
exemption and creates an exemption
for identification numbers, trade
secrets, anticipated and average wages,
proprietary information and stipulated
taxes related to the Innovation Incentive
Program. Also exempts sales percentages
derived from the Department of Defense.
(Attkisson, R-Kissimmee)
CS/HB 1369 Rejected Bids,

Proposals or Negotiations: Creates an
exemption for rejected bids or proposals
if the agency concurrently provides
notice of its intent to reopen invitations
to bid or requests for proposals. Also
exempts meetings at which negotiations
with vendors are conducted, although a
recording must be made. The recording
enters the public record once the agency
announces a decision or intended
decision on the bid, or until 20 days after
competitive sealed replies are opened,
whichever is earlier. i ,, R-Milton)
HB 1451 Florida Center for Brain
Tumor Research: Exempts individual
medical records and information received
from an individual from another state,
county or the federal government held
by the Florida Center for Brain Tumor
Research. (Gannon, D-Delray Beach)
CS/HB 7161 State Board of
Administration: Exempts proprietary
confidential business information related to
alternative investments of the State Board of
Administration. Thepublic record exemption
applies only when the party submitting the
information provides a written declaration
adhering to specific requirements. Access is
allowed by court order.

Governor vetoes two records bills

passed in 2006 legislative session

vetoed two public records bills passed
by the Florida Legislature during the
2006 session.
The first bill (HB 1097) would have
required government agencies to reply
"promptly" to public records requests.
In his veto message, Bush wrote that
existing law already outlines a standard
for when an agency must respond to
requests "at any reasonable time,
under reasonable conditions."
The bill had the potential to require
agencies to reply without delay,
regardless of the situation, according
to the governor. This could require
the hiring of additional staff, and
the Legislature did not provide any
additional funding, he wrote.
Bush also objected to part of the
bill requiring agency heads to appoint

records custodians and provide notice
of the appointment.
"To the extent the public or
government employees are misled to
believe that only designated persons
can receive record requests, the bill
does not accord with the sprit of public
record law," Bush wrote.
The second bill (CS/SB 1438),
would have allowed the Legislature
to access records with confidential
and exempt status. Bush wrote in his
veto message that by allowing the
Legislature access to such records
maintained by the executive branch,
the separation of powers would be
The bill also would have codified
existing case law on custodial
requirements for confidential and
exempt records.

4 Annual FOI Report U 2006

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs