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Delaware Newspaper Entitled to Police Info, Fees

The Supreme Court of Delaware has held that a Superior Court abused it’s discretion by deciding issues in a Delaware Freedom of Information (FOIA) case and applied an incorrect legal standard. The News Journal sought information from the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System (DCJIS) to study the State’s criminal justice system.

DCJIS eventually agreed to provide the information with the exception identification fields and the names of police, probation, and parole officers. The Superior Court held DCJIS must provide the linking numbers because re-identification is not possible. The Court, however, prohibited release of information related to cases where no convictions were obtained, or geographic information.

The Superior Court held that was improper because those issues were not before the Court. Additionally, the Court held officer information could not be released because it endangers officer safety. That is an incorrect standard because under the FOIA only privacy is an issue, not officer safety.

The Supreme Court reversed judgment denying officer information to apply the proper standard and vacated judgment as to non-conviction and geographic information while approving attorney fees and costs for the News Journal. See: Gannett Co. Inc. v. Board of Managers of The Delaware Criminal Justice Information System, 840 A.2D 1232 (2003).

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Related legal case

Gannett Co. Inc. v. Board of Managers of The Delaware Criminal Justice Information System