Justia Communications Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court
City of Fort Smith v. Wade
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court granting Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and finding that the City of Fort Smith and its directors violated the open-meeting provisions of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) when three of the city directors and the city administrator exchanged emails relating to city business, holding that the email communication did not violate the open-meeting provisions set forth in Ark. Code Ann. 25-19-106.Specifically, the Court held (1) FOIA's open-meeting provisions apply to email and other forms of electronic communication between governmental officials just as they apply to in-person or telephonic conversations; but (2) the emails in this case were only background information and non-decisional information sharing, and therefore, there was no violation of the of the open-meeting provisions. View "City of Fort Smith v. Wade" on Justia Law
Arkansas Department of Correction v. Shults
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the circuit court’s order requiring the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) to provide Steven Shults with the pharmaceutical package inserts and labels for its supply of midazolam, one of the drugs in the State’s execution protocol.Shults filed a complaint against the ADC after it refused to provide him with public records pertaining to the State’s supply of midazolam pursuant to his Arkansas Freedom of Information Act request. The ADC refused to disclose the package inserts or labels for the midazolam, arguing that these documents could be used to identify the sellers or suppliers of the drug in violation of the Method of Execution Act (MEA), Ark. Code Ann. 5-4-617. On appeal, the Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court correctly determined that the identity of drug manufacturers is not protected under the confidentiality provisions of section 5-4-617; but (2) the circuit court erred in requiring disclosure of the unredacted records, as certain information was confidential under section 5-4-617(j). The court remanded the case for the circuit court to determine which information must be redacted on the midazolam labels and/or package inserts at issue. View "Arkansas Department of Correction v. Shults" on Justia Law
Department of Arkansas State Police v. Keech Law Firm P.A.
Roby Lowery Stapleton was murdered in 1963. Her murder remains unsolved. In 2013, through the Keech Law Firm, Stapleton’s family made a formal written request to the Department of Arkansas State Police (ASP) for a copy of the case file and other materials relating to ASP’s investigation into Stapleton’s murder. ASP denied the request. Keech then filed a complaint against ASP asking the circuit court to compel disclosure under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) . ASP maintained that the material was exempt under FOIA because it was the subject of an open and ongoing investigation into Stapleton’s murder. The court ordered ASP to turn over the file, concluding that the case was not an “open and ongoing” law enforcement investigation and, therefore, the claimed exemption did not apply. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court’s finding that this investigation was not open and ongoing was not clearly erroneous; and (2) this case falls squarely within the purpose of FOIA. View "Department of Arkansas State Police v. Keech Law Firm P.A." on Justia Law