Monday, March 18, 2013

Okemah News Leader says Okfuskee County jailer harassed reporter over records request for mug shot

An Okfuskee County jailer last week asked an Okemah News Leader reporter why she wanted the mug shot of someone arrested and then said it was very nasty of her to dig up "crap" on people, the newspaper reported Saturday.
Booking mug shots are public records and releasing them doesn't constitute an invasion of privacy even if the person was acquitted, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in a formal opinion in December. (AG: Mug shots are public records whose release isn't an invasion of privacy)
If Shakara Shepard had identified herself as a reporter, the jailer had no right to ask why she wanted the mug shot. His question would be a violation of the Open Records Act.
The person requesting a record can be asked for only enough information to determine if a search fee should be charged because the records request is for a commercial purpose, a 1999 attorney general opinion said. (1999 OK AG 55, ¶ 18-19)
Otherwise, "In no event could a public body or public official ever require a requester to provide the reason for a request for access to records," the opinion emphasized.
The news media cannot be charged a search fee. (Okla. Stat. tit. 51, § 24A.5(3))
And it's never the government official's job to pass judgment on why someone wants a public document.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Media & Strategic Communications
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Differing interpretations of law and policy are welcome. Personal attacks and character assassinations will be rejected.