Contracting Away Transparency: A Look at Human Rights Defense Center v. Correct Care Solutions LLC | Dan Marshall, general counsel and litigation director for the Human Rights Defense Center, explains a recent ruling by the Vermont Supreme Court that helps keep certain private companies subject to the state’s public records law. Marshall argued on behalf of the HRDC last spring. NEFAC and other advocates served as amici curiae in the case. Discussion notes and links.


The U.S. Supreme Court: Why More Access and Transparency is Needed | Melissa Wasser, policy counsel at the Project on Government Oversight in Washington, D.C., discusses ways the U.S. Supreme Court should expand public access to its proceedings. POGO, NEFAC and more than 80 other organizations recently called on the court to permanently provide live audio streaming of oral arguments. Discussion notes and links.


Accessing Police Body Camera Footage and 911 Calls in Rhode Island | NEFAC’s Edward Fitzpatrick, a reporter at The Boston Globe, appeared on A Lively Experiment to discuss a new police body camera initiative and when footage should be released. Fitzpatrick and other panelists also spoke about the lack of access to 911 calls in the state. The conversation begins at 11:55. Learn more about how NEFAC is helping to keep police accountable.


Qualified Immunity and the First Amendment Right to Record Police | Gabe Rottman at the Reporters Committee explains the legal principle of “qualified immunity” and a recent effort to have the U.S. Supreme Court declare the First Amendment right to record police as clearly established. Rottman and his colleagues filed an amicus brief on behalf of NEFAC and others arguing that lower courts need more guidance on the issue. Discussion notes and links.


30 Minute Skills: Web Scraping 102 | This is the second of two introductory lessons taught by NEFAC’s Maggie Mulvihill about collecting online data through web scraping. By viewing this class, you will learn: (1) additional ways to scrape websites for information (2) how to use free online tools for web scraping and (3) how to scrape data from PDF documents for use in spreadsheets. View all previous classes and register for upcoming ones here.


Accessing Police Records in New Hampshire: A Case of First Impression | Attorney Gregory V. Sullivan, a member of NEFAC’s Board of Directors, discusses a public records dispute over a report on excessive force allegations against a Canaan police officer. Sullivan filed an amicus brief on behalf of NEFAC and Union Leader Corp. arguing that the report should be made public under the New Hampshire Right to Know Law. Discussion notes and links.


Rhode Island Open Government Summit | Tim White, a reporter for WPRI-Providence and a long-time member of NEFAC’s Board of Directors, provided the opening remarks to the 23rd annual Open Government Summit in Rhode Island. “When access to information is choked off, secrecy has a direct and negative impact on the public’s opinion of government and the work you do,” White said. “Please remember the important role you play in our free and open government.”


Federal Freedom of Information Act: An Introduction to Public Records | The New England First Amendment Coalition and the Society of Professional Journalists New England present this lesson on the federal Freedom of Information Act. The introductory class is moderated by Emily Sweeney, a reporter at The Boston Globe and a board member of both NEFAC and SPJNE, and is led by Michael Morisy, founder and executive director of MuckRock. View all classes here.


30 Minute Skills: Web Scraping 101 | This is the first of two introductory lessons taught by NEFAC’s Maggie Mulvihill about collecting online data through web scraping. By viewing this class, you will learn: (1) how web scraping can be helpful to data collection (2) where to find free tools to use for web scraping and (3) how to begin scraping various websites for information and data. View all previous classes and register for upcoming ones here.


Analysis: What Does New Justice Department Policy Mean for Journalists? | U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland recently formalized a new policy that broadly prohibits prosecutors from subpoenaing of journalist records, something major media outlets like the New York Times and CNN dealt with during the Trump administration. NEFAC Executive Director Justin Silverman speaks to WCAX-Burlington about the policy and the need for a federal shield law.


What is a SLAPP? How Maine is Addressing Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation | Shannon Jankowski at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press explains how strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) are used to stifle public discourse. The Reporters Committee, along with NEFAC’s Sigmund Schutz, recently filed a brief addressing how Maine’s anti-SLAPP statute should be interpreted. Discussion notes and links.


Rhode Island: An Introduction to Public Records | The New England First Amendment Coalition and the Society of Professional Journalists New England present this lesson on the Maine public records law. The introductory class is moderated by Emily Sweeney, a reporter at The Boston Globe and a board member of both NEFAC and SPJNE, and is led by attorney Mark Freel, an attorney at Locke Lord in Providence. View all classes here.


Revisiting Student Rights: How the U.S. Supreme Court May Restrict Off-Campus Speech | Attorney Mike Hiestand of the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C., discusses the “fuck cheer” case — Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. — and its possible implications on the rights of students outside the schoolhouse gates. Discussion notes and links. Additional resources on student speech and journalism. View more videos on the First Amendment and journalism here.


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