Past Columns by SCPA Attorney Taylor Smith
Taylor M. Smith IV is a media lawyer who represents the S.C. Press Association and its newspapers. As one of our FOI/Legal Hotline attorneys, he is available to answer your open government, legal and libel questions. Call (803) 750-9561.
Sunshine Week 2022 | Taylor Smith
Sunshine Week 2022 Column: SCPA Attorney Taylor Smith By SCPA Attorney Taylor Smith Sunshine Week has arrived and is our annual reminder that if governmental transparency is not achieved our democracy will also never be fully realized. Rejoice, though, the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (SCFOIA) exists and sets minimum duties of transparency on entities who use public funds here. Use it or we may well lose it. SCFOIA provides (for example) deadlines upon how fast public bodies must respond to open records requests, how fast they must provide those records, and even what records and information must be…
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 provide a written response to the request and (eventually) supply the records or an opportunity to inspect them to the requester. Asking for more information than is necessary is likely a violation of SCFOIA’s mandate that S.C. residents be able “to learn and report fully the activities of their public…
Legal Q&A: Selling photo goods
Legal Q&A: Selling photo goods (July 2019) Q. Is it legally appropriate to offer an online marketplace through my newspaper’s website whereby a customer can have an image or video published by the paper to be placed on a new product for sale (i.e. coffee mug, calendar, digital picture/video frame)? By SCPA Attorney Taylor Smith A: Yes, it is technically lawful for a newspaper to sell its original content (photo, video, copy, etc.); however, civil liability may stem from such sales when the subject of the original content sues for damages. In essence, you will almost always be protected from…
Legal Q&A: Law enforcement redaction
Q: In response to a S.C. FOIA request, can law enforcement redact information of a personal nature where the public disclosure thereof would constitute unreasonable invasion of personal privacy?
Legal Q&A: Rerunning syndicated columns
Q: Is it OK to rerun syndicated columns that you originally paid for (for instance old Louis Grizzard columns that had run in our papers a long time ago)?
Legal Q&A: Obtaining student records
Q: Can I obtain student records from a local public school pursuant to a S.C. FOIA request?
Legal Q&A: Liability of public bodies
Q: Can fulfilling an S.C. FOIA request result in liability for public bodies?
Legal Q&A: Photographing private property
Q: A local business is not letting our photographer take a photo of a sign on the outside of the building, which says they are closed to do training. Can we insist on taking that photo from their parking lot?
Legal Q&A: Suing a public body from out-of-state
Q: Can I sue a public body for a SCFOIA violation regarding a request for information if I am a resident of another state?
Legal Q&A: Search and retrieval fees
Q: Does a public body have to charge for the fees associated with search, retrieval, and redaction of records in fulfilling a FOIA request?
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?
Legal Q&A: Written FOIA requests
Q: Is a written FOIA request necessary to see records that were distributed to or reviewed by an elected official during a public meeting?
Legal Q&A: Recording public officials
Legal Q&A: Recording public officials (Feb. 2018) Q: Can you record public officials on public property? By SCPA Attorney Taylor Smith A: Yes. The rights under the First Amendment are not absolute but assuming the act of recording does not substantially interfere with the public official’s performance of his or her duties and/or does not violate what a court would later consider to be reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on the freedom of speech in that location, a citizen’s recording of the activities of the public official are constitutionally protected. Taylor M. Smith IV is a media lawyer who represents…