NEFAC files and signs onto amicus briefs, letters and statements addressing important First Amendment issues. This is a listing of those documents, as well as others that may be of interest to you. While our main focus is on freedom of information concerns, we will consider supporting any amicus brief that addresses the First Amendment. If you would like to have NEFAC sign onto your brief, or to have us file one on behalf of your cause, please email our executive director for more information. Briefs, letters and statements from previous years can be viewed here: 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011
To Vt. Sen. Jeanette White Re: House Bill 700 (March 20, 2018)
NEFAC is concerned with House Bill 700, “An Act Relating to the Open Meeting Law and Meeting Minutes.” This legislation is unnecessary and addresses a problem that can already be avoided by state agencies and municipalities. If passed, this bill will weaken the state’s open meeting law and make it more difficult for Vermont residents to obtain timely information about their government.
Those in the highest levels of government have moved far beyond previous efforts to evade transparency, engaging in an unprecedented, systemic endeavor to undermine the basic norms of disclosure, accountability and truthfulness. The Trump Administration has undermined the role of the press, and uses misinformation to thwart the public’s understanding of its actions. Furthermore, the oversight function of Congress has been weakened, if not trivialized, by partisanship. By devaluing openness and accountability, those in power today are diminishing the public trust in government and eroding the foundations of our democracy.
U.S. v. Chin (1st Cir. 2018)
The district court erred by ordering disclosure of information too limited for the public to identify the jurors in a tried-to-verdict criminal case and by delaying public disclosure of any juror information for much longer than necessary — until after sentencing. The court’s order restricting disclosure to names and hometowns provides too little information in many instances to identify a juror because hundreds of people share the same names in large communities within the district. The court should have allowed disclosure of juror names and full addresses immediately after the return of the verdict.
To R.I. Gov. Raimondo Re: The ‘Revenge Porn’ Bills (Jan. 18, 2018)
Our organizations are writing about the so-called revenge porn bills that were introduced last year and that we expect will be reintroduced this session. As you know, in 2017 the Attorney General reintroduced his version of the legislation that you had vetoed in 2016 (S-401), and you submitted your own bill, S-765, which sought to address the serious constitutional defects in the AG’s bill.
Comments Re: R.I. Dept. of Safety Regulations on APRA Proposal (Jan. 18, 2018)
This testimony is submitted on behalf of ACCESS/Rhode Island, a coalition of non-profit organizations and First Amendment advocates such as the New England First Amendment Coalition, all dedicated to ensuring government at all levels is accessible to the public.