Boston Globe sues police over public records dispute

The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe on Tuesday filed an open-records lawsuit against multiple law enforcement organizations after being stonewalled by the police.

The lawsuit, which seeks police reports, booking photos and prison logs, comes after state and local officials refused to disclose records relating to "more than a half-dozen law enforcement officers who were charged with drunken driving and a judge who was accused of stealing a watch at Logan Airport," Todd Wallack reports for The Boston Globe.

According to Wallack's article, the dispute turns on the question of whether authorities can use a law called the Criminal Offender Record Information Act — also called CORI — as justification for withholding records.

All of the agencies said the records were not public because of the criminal records law, often referred to as CORI and frequently invoked by law enforcement agencies to deny public records requests. The secretary of state’s office — which oversees enforcement of the public records law — supported the denials, explaining that the law gives law enforcement agencies broad “discretion” over what records to withhold and what to release.

In March, The Globe and other news organizations in the New England published coordinated editorials condemning a decision to allow Boston police to withhold records relating to police officers who were driving drunk. Those editorials were published near Sunshine Week, an annual celebration of transparency in government.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.

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