Freedom of Information Supreme Court Victory for Briggs Team

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April 27, 2018

In August 2015, Briggs client and journalist Tony Webster requested information about Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek’s office use of biometric technology—high-tech methods to track people by their faces, irises, and DNA. The Sheriff’s Office claimed the request was too burdensome and refused to comply. After a nearly three-year courtroom battle, including two trips to the Minnesota Supreme Court, Webster has prevailed in arguing that Hennepin County violated state open records laws by failing to comply with Webster’s request. The Supreme Court left intact the trial court ruling that there is no “burdensome” exception to the law, and the court faulted the county’s procedures for responding to requests made under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.

“I’m pleased the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld a win for the public in this freedom of information case,” stated Webster. “The decision sends a clear message that access to government data is integral to our democracy, and the ruling strengthens the law for journalists and members of the public. I’m grateful for the excellent legal work from my attorneys at Briggs and Morgan; Scott Flaherty, Cyrus Malek, Emily Peterson, and Samuel Aintablian. Their hard work ensured a victory for the public interest and all who use the Government Data Practices Act to keep government accountable.”

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