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Florida’s Public Records Law Exempts Attorney Notes

Florida’s Supreme Court has affirmed a trial court’s order finding that certain documents in the State attorney’s file are exempt form disclosure under Florida’s Public Records Act. The trial court reviewed the documents in camera.

If found the documents in question, which were sought by a prisoner under sentence of death, were attorney notes, a list of questions for a witness, and a trial outline. The Supreme Court held the documents are not final evidence of knowledge obtained in connection with the transaction of final business, “which makes them not subject to public disclosure.” Moreover, they are “simply preliminary guides intended to aid the attorneys when they later formalize the knowledge.”

As such, they fall within the exemption under §119.011 (1), Florida statutes. The Court further found there is no violation under Brady v. Maryland, 83 S.CT.1194 (1963), as he did not allege the materials were exculpatory. The trial court’s order was affirmed. See: Johnson v. Butterworth, 713 So. 2d 985 (Fla. 1998)

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Related legal case

Johnson v. Butterworth