During a recent visit to the John Locke Foundation, Elliot sat down with Mitch Kokai of the Carolina Journal Radio Program to talk about some problems and solutions in North Carolina's public records law. Check out the video below:

#JohnLockeFoundation #CarolinaJournal #PublicRecords


Next year, Engstrom's latest article on freedom of information laws will be published in the North Carolina Law Review, a publication of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law. The article, entitled "Defining North Carolina's Public Records and Open Meetings Fee-Shifting Provisions in the Larger National Context," will use freedom of information laws from other jurisdictions to provide definition to and predict the future of North Carolina's public records and open meetings fee-shifting laws. The article will also examine any clarity that can be provided by the history of North Carolina's statutes and case law.

"Fee shifting" is what happens when a court awards attorney's fees to the winning party in a lawsuit. Such fee awards serve as incentives (or disincentives) to bring certain kinds of lawsuits -- in this case, public records and open meetings lawsuits. Engstrom's article will examine when plaintiffs and defendants can expect to receive fee awards in North Carolina public recoreds and open meetings lawsuits.

The article will be published in Volume 96 of the North Carolina Law Review.

#PublicRecords #OpenMeetings #UniversityofNorthCarolina

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This week, Engstrom filed a brief and supporting motion on behalf of the Student Press Law Center ("SPLC") at the North Carolina Court of Appeals. In the brief, Engstrom and SPLC argue that the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) does not preclude the University of North Carolina from disclosing records of sexual assault investigations in response to a public records request. SPLC has more:

The case originated with an October 2016 open-records request by the independent student newspaper at UNC, the Daily Tar Heel, which has aggressively covered the university's response to sexual assault and has regularly feuded with the university over its aggressive use of FERPA privacy to withhold public records. The newspaper is seeking records of cases in which students or faculty were found to have committed sexual assault or sexual harassment, and in those cases, what penalties were imposed. But the university turned down the request on the grounds of student confidentiality, and the student newspaper, joined by a coalition of professional media organizations, filed suit. In May 2017, a trial-court judge ruled that UNC has discretion to turn down the open-records request, relying on a federal regulation that says universities "may" disclose the outcomes of cases where students are found responsible for sex crimes.

The Court of Appeals allowed the motion on Friday. The next step in the case is for the North Carolina Attorney General to respond by November 15. The court will then either schedule the case for oral argument or make a decision on the briefs.

The Student Press Law Center is a nonprofit, Washington, D.C.-based advocate for the rights of student journalists to gather and publish information to inform their communities. Through its 215-member nationwide network of attorney volunteers, the SPLC regularly appears in state and federal courts in cases that implicate the ability of journalists to gather information about colleges and schools.

#UniversityofNorthCarolina #DailyTarHeel #StudentPressLawCenter #PublicRecords #Litigation #FERPA

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