Exempt records are not subject to the mandatory disclosure requirements of the Public Records Law; an agency, however, is not prohibited from disclosing such records. The act can be violated in a variety of ways. For example, in Lake Shore Hospital Authority v. Lilker , So. Sundy , So. Lee , So. The ultimate take-away of the above opinions is that failing to adhere to the Public Records Act is both illegal and can be quite costly. The laws in this area are under even more scrutiny as a result of advancements in modern technology and, in particular, electronic communications devices, discussed below.
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Modern Challenges In , the Florida Supreme Court recognized an emerging problem within the public records law realm — the use of publicly owned devices to conduct personal business, such as sending personal emails. In State v. City of Clearwater , So. The determining factor is the nature of the record, not its physical location. Ten years after City of Clearwater , the First District addressed another modern challenge in the public records realm in Rhea v. Thus, regardless of whether the record is in digital or physical form and regardless of where the record is physically located, the nature of the document is the ultimate factor in determining whether the public has a right to access that record.
Over the next six years, the available computing power will likely double at least twice and maybe three times. This increase in computing power and new devices will likely drive current lawyering technologies, such as document automation, decisions engines, e-discovery tools, communication and collaboration tools, legal research tools, and legal expert systems, to continue to mature and progress in functionality and availability. This prediction is proving to be correct and Florida courts are increasingly forced to determine how modern technology, including the ever-emerging forms of communication, such as direct messaging in various platforms, must conform to our historic policy of access to public records.
Reflecting back to the City of Clearwater , it is the nature of the document that matters, not its location. Now, if an agency or local government decides to pass more stringent policies for public records, then the public policy is all-the-more served. The Model Rules do not impose greater or different duties of confidentiality based upon the method by which a lawyer communicates with a client. But how a lawyer should comply with the core duty of confidentiality in an ever-changing technological world requires some reflection.
Furthermore, The Florida Bar has also recognized the need for advising attorneys of the best practices for communicating electronically.
Lawyers use multiple forms of communication on a daily basis to diligently advocate and are in a constant state of communication with clients, opposing counsel, the court and colleagues…. There is no expectation of privacy on the internet. There is no such thing as a true delete of information.
Privacy settings are not a safeguard to protect what you post, and information is stored forever. In general, if you would be ashamed to see it on a billboard, do not post it.
Beyond that context, agencies and local governments should be aware of the breadth of the Public Records Act. While the act is an extensive piece of legislation, agencies and local governments should have a plan beyond the outline of the act. At least one Florida law purports to restrict the broadcasting of an identifiable photograph or voice of a child victim of certain sexual acts without the written consent of the victim.
The constitutionality of this provision has not been challenged.
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Still cameras are specifically included within Rule 2. The court held that the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration did not apply to the use of a laptop computer in a courtroom. Live blogging continued in the criminal trial underlying this decision. Requests for court records are not required to be in writing. Obtaining paper court records from court clerks can be very expensive. Ask for a copy to be emailed to you. See AOSC Administrative orders and customary practices often vary by circuit.
Information on each of the courts in Florida can be found at www. Some circuits employ media specialists. When present in person, journalists should rise and orally object in open court to the closure of proceedings and request that the court recess briefly to enable the journalist to contact counsel.
Otherwise, counsel should be contacted immediately when the media becomes aware of a closure so that the court may be made aware of the objection on an expedited basis. Some courts will permit oral arguments only. County courts are trial courts of limited jurisdiction.
Gill v. DOJ (Challenge to Federal Suspicious Activity Reporting) | ACLU of Northern CA
County courts also have jurisdiction over small claims, criminal traffic cases, misdemeanor cases, cases involving violations of county and municipal ordinances, limited types of dissolution cases, and most landlord and tenant actions. The circuit courts also have jurisdiction over probate matters, domestic relations cases, juvenile matters, criminal felony cases, competency cases, and all cases in equity.
Circuit courts also act as appellate courts for county courts. The five District Courts of Appeal have jurisdiction to hear appeals that may be taken as a matter of right from final judgments or orders of trial courts which are not directly appealable to the Florida Supreme Court or a circuit court. The Florida Supreme Court must consider appeals from trial court final judgments imposing the death penalty and orders in bond validation proceedings.
The Florida Supreme Court may also review decisions of district courts in a variety of circumstances including questions certified by the district court as a question of great public importance, among other things. The cost for paper copies will vary based on the length of the transcript. Regarding high-profile cases, check local rules and administrative orders for that court.
Links to Florida court websites, including the local rules for each court, can be found at www. Many, if not all courts, including appellate courts and the Florida Supreme Court have administrative rules for access to high profile cases. Most will also have a court contact person, such as a public information officer to contact regarding the proceedings. If a case has been designated as a high profile case by the chief judge, court records in the case will be posted online.
You can ask for such a designation as well. You can browse and search for each individual Florida court website at www. Cellphones should be turned off or silenced prior to entering the courtroom or chambers. Items such as laptops may be permitted as long as it does not cause disturbance.
Cellphones must be checked upon entering the Florida Supreme Court building. In certain federal buildings, cellphones are not permitted by anyone other than licensed Florida Bar attorneys and staff. This allows the court to hold the hearing in the courtroom rather than in chambers if there is a need for additional space to accommodate your presence.
The list of current judges and their staff is commonly located on the website of each specific court. General information and directives for each Florida court can be found at www. That manual can be located online. Introduction: Access rights in the jurisdiction A. The roots of access rights B.
- The Florida Public Records Act in the Era of Modern Technology;
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Overcoming a presumption of openness C. Procedural prerequisites to closure II. Procedure for asserting right of access to proceedings and records A. Media standing to challenge closure B. Procedure for requesting access in criminal cases C. Procedure for requesting access in civil matters D. Obtaining review of initial court decisions III. Access to criminal proceedings A. In general B.
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Pretrial proceedings C. Criminal trials D. Post-trial proceedings E. Appellate proceedings IV.
Gill v. DOJ (Challenge to Federal Suspicious Activity Reporting)
Access to criminal court records A. Arrest records C. Dockets D. Warrants, wiretaps and related materials E. Discovery materials F. Pretrial motions and records G.