Major Wins for Transparency:
How the N.H. Supreme Court Reshaped the Right to Know Law
The New England First Amendment Coalition, Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications and the New Hampshire Press Association will present a webinar about recent decisions expanding the public’s right to know about government on Friday, June 26, from noon-1pm.
Attorneys Richard Gagliuso and Gregory V. Sullivan will discuss two positive decisions issued by the Supreme Court of New Hampshire earlier this month that will make it easier for the public to oversee its law enforcement agencies and hold police officers accountable for their actions.
Gagliuso of Bernstein Shur and Sullivan of Malloy & Sullivan were among the attorneys arguing for the public’s right to know in the cases.
In each case, the high court overruled a previous decision that categorically exempted from the state’s Right-to-Know Law any records related to “internal personnel practices.” With these rulings, that category of records is now more limited. A balancing test — rather than the more strict per se exemption — is now also required to determine if those records should be publicly released.
At stake in the cases was the public’s right to access certain law enforcement records. Seacoast Newspapers v. City of Portsmouth concerned the release of a 2018 arbitration decision about a fired police officer. In Union Leader Corp. v. Town of Salem, the court addressed a public records request for an audit report that included details about internal affairs complaint investigations.
Both the police union in Portsmouth and the Salem Police Department had cited a 1993 case Union Leader Corp. v. Fenniman to try to argue that the documents were exempt from the Right-to-Know Law, an earlier decision the court now says is flawed.
This webinar is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is required.
To register, loebschool.org/register-for-classes/.