Published in
The Empire

FOILing Paterson

Columbia Journalism Review says they’re going to sue Governor Pateron’s office over a denied FOIL request:

the records we’re seeking would likely help illuminate the press’s role in a bizarre chain of events in state history that led to the appointment of an Independent Counsel and to the governor dropping his election campaign. Sure, there will be lots of chaff in those e-mails. But perhaps they’d offer some information explaining the resignations, show reporters testing the most bizarre theories circulating at the time, or catalogue an evolving damage-control line from the state’s highest official.
Any of that would all be potentially interesting, and that’s why we will exercise our rights under the law and file suit.

[skip]

The shield law protects journalists from subpoenas about their sources and reporting. It does not protect sources from being compelled to testify. Expanding its protections to sources—especially to government sources, paid by taxpayers, and acting in their official capacity—would pervert and dilute the law. Besides, any talk of testimony is entirely besides the point here. The FOIL process is not a subpoena, and the shield does not protect public records—even if those records reflect some aspect of a journalist’s communication with a public official—from being disclosed pursuant to a proper records request.

And, worth noting:

lawyers at Friedman & Wittenstein, who have generously agreed to take the case at no charge to us. Instead, they hope to recoup their costs under a provision of New York’s FOIL allowing plaintiffs to bill the state if the judge finds that a denial was especially capricious.