Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘public records laws’

How To Spy on the Government

Posted by M. C. on September 24, 2022

By Allan Stevo

As part of the activism that my team and I do, I like to follow public records laws and the latest activity happening around public records. 

This is especially necessary now that I am running Project Accountability, a group of 70 folks who have signed up to help hold their local public health officials accountable for the crimes committed in 2020 and beyond. 

So much information can be learned by just asking. 

Just Ask 

In a recent newspaper story, I saw that the City of Palm Springs, California has been trying for months to get records related to a school in nearby Palm Desert named College of the Desert. The school said it would provide records two weeks after the upcoming election. The city did not find that acceptable and is now suing the school over the matter. 

Someone involved in the matter obviously wants to have more information before the upcoming elections about someone else involved in the matter. Perhaps that person even wants to hold the other accountable. Elections are good at doing that. It might be a bunch of political shenanigans, or it might be an earnest effort at holding a misguided band of fellows accountable. The distinction is not relevant to my purposes, for in either example, both you and I are able to gather knowledge and to steel ourselves for the battles in our own lives. 

I was eager to have a look at the original records request and the legal documents from the City of Palm Springs. I could poke around courthouse websites to see if any data existed, and I could poke around on other online databases. Such searches can be time-consuming and take a great deal of effort. They do not always promise to be fruitful. Admittedly, that particular search is likely to be fruitful since there are only two courthouses that this lawsuit would take place in — the country courthouse or possibly, but not likely, in the nearest federal courthouse. 

Rather than search court records, I sometimes try a different approach. An Andrew Jared was mentioned as counsel for the City of Palm

Springs in this matter, making this a particularly useful time to employ this alternate method. 

The Way That I Asked 

Here’s what I did: 

1.) Find the attorney involved. 

Don’t just use Google for this, try a better method, which will find you the attorney’s contact information more reliably than any common search engine.

2.) Go to the search function of the state bar association, and find the phone number and email for that attorney. 

Every state has a bar association. You may even end up with a private cell phone number from this search. 

3.) Contact the attorney asking if he would kindly send you the court documents you are looking for. 

Truthfully, that attorney doesn’t even owe you a response, but a lot of attorneys will respond to a properly phrased request. 

With that article naming Andrew Jared as counsel for the City of Palm Springs, I gave him a call, left him a message, and sent him an email. If I had had his cell phone number from the search, I would have text messaged him too. 

I also took it a little further. 

See the rest here

Be seeing you

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