SOS for South Carolina’s FOIA

SOS for South Carolina’s FOIA Published Sept. 2021 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications In the past several weeks and months we have seen numerous examples of local and state government boards and agencies refusing to comply with South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act. These...

Lessons Not Learned

Lessons Not Learned Published October 2020 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications Within the past few weeks, there have been a number of examples of government bodies and officials ignoring the open records and open meeting requirements of South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act, and...

Death Certificates

Death Certificates Published April 28, 2020 By SCPA Attorney Jay Bender When I die, I expect friends, acquaintances, and perhaps strangers to ask a common question, “How did he die?” The answer to that question for all persons who die in South Carolina is recorded on an official state record—a...

Public meetings in a time of pandemic

Public meetings in a time of pandemic Published March 11, 2020 By SCPA Attorney Jay Bender The current strategy to stall the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 virus is the maintenance of “social distance,” personal hygiene and youth. On the social distance side of the ledger, the Columbia Mayor...

Legal Q&A: Can/should an agency require a person filing a FOI request include name, telephone number, physical address?

Legal Q&A (10.16.19) Q. Can/should an agency require a person filing a FOI request include name, telephone number, physical address? By SCPA Attorney Taylor Smith A. Public bodies, including, but limited to, state agencies, are not required to gather contact information of a SCFOIA requester beyond what is necessary to...

Trustees’ attorneys release details of Scott settlement

Trustees’ attorneys release details of Scott settlement By Graham Williams, Union County NewsPublished in the newspaper on Aug. 19, 2019Picked up by the SCPA eBulletin on Aug. 28, 2019As part of the settlement agreement between Billy Scott and the Union County Board of School Trustees both parties agreed to release...

Words and Deeds

Words and Deeds Published July 2019 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications In 2017, when signing a law to strengthen the state’s Freedom of Information Act, Governor McMaster said that “[g]overnment has to be accountable to the people it serves, and its citizens should have...

USC president search skirts FOIA

USC president search skirts FOIA Published July 2019 By SCPA Attorney Jay Bender Well, this is a fine kettle of fish. The group that hired a president who treated public money as a slush fund, then replaced him with a president who moved out of the president's residence in a...

FOIA suit against S.C. House Republican Caucus

By SCPA Attorney Jay Bender | News organizations and associations, The State Media Company, The Post and Courier, Inc., Gannett GP Media, Inc., South Carolina Press Association, South Carolina Broadcasters Association, and the Associated Press, were rejected in their suit to have the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) applied to...

Freelancing FOIA

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | South Carolina’s Freedom of Information law provides that “[a]ll materials, regardless of form, gathered by a public body during a search to fill an employment position, except that materials relating to not fewer than the final three applicants...

Frustrating FOIA

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | Through South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act, diligent journalists and others have discovered much revealing information about the actions of state and local government in our state. Things recently revealed through FOIA requests have included Anderson County’s failure...

Amending the agenda

By SCPA Attorney Jay Bender | I was in Mount Pleasant recently. It had been years since I had driven north of Shem Creek on Coleman Boulevard. My drive north in search of lunch put into context the Save Shem Creek movement and the desire of many residents to slow...

Legal Q&A: Right to inspect

Q: Do you have to be a member of the press to inspect incident reports, the minutes from a public meeting, booking/detention information, or all documents that were distributed to or reviewed by a public official during a public meeting?

What Trump can do to thwart the press

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | During his campaign, president-elect Donald Trump notoriously promised that he would “open up our libel laws so when they [the media] write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money."...