Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2005

New York Times Gets Access to Some City Fire Department Records

New York's highest court has determined that the New York Times may have access to some of the tapes and transcripts pertaining to September 11, 2001, pursuant to Freedom of Information Law requests filed by Times reporter Jim Dwyer under CPLR article 78 in early 2002. Some of the family members of victims later joined the action. The lower court "ordered disclosure of tapes and transcripts containing: (1) the 911 calls, to the extent that the words recorded are those of public employees and of the eight men whose survivors sought disclosure, but redacted to delete the words of other people who called 911; (2)the dispatch call, redacted to delete opinions and recommendations of Fire Department employees; and (3) the oral histories, redacted to delete opinions and recommendations and the "personal expressions of feelings" of the interviewees. The Appellate Devision affirmed these ruling, except that it ordered the "ersonal expressions of feelings" in the oral histories disclosed. We granted both sides'  motions for leave to appeal...We now affirm the Appellate Division's order with two modifications: (1) we direct that the entire oral histories be disclosed, except for specifically-identified portions that can be shown likely to cause serious pain or embarrassment to an interviewee; and (2) we direct that the Department of Justice be given a chance to demonstrate that disclosure of the six potential exhibits would interfere with the Moussaoui case would deprive either the United States Government or Moussaoui of a fair trial." Read the entire ruling here.

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