FAF Letter to Rep. Shaw Re: HB 507 Exemption/Email Addresses – Judges and Justices

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4 January 2018
The Honorable Sean Shaw
Florida House of Representatives
402 South Monroe Street, Room 1102 The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100

Re: HB 507 Exemption/Email Addresses – Judges and Justices

Dear Representative Shaw:

We are writing to express our concerns regarding HB 507, creating a public record exemption for the business email addresses of current Supreme Court justices and judges.

According to the required statement of public necessity, public release of judicial email addresses could result in ex parte communications between a justice or judge from parties in a lawsuit. The harm stated is speculative at best and ignores the fact that such ex parte communications can also occur should a party to a lawsuit communicate with a justice or judge via conventional mail, by telephone, or even in person. In addition, the style of an email address can be easily discerned, making the exemption superfluous.

In our opinion, the justification for the proposed exemption is constitutionally insufficient and we respectfully request that HB 507 be withdrawn from further consideration.

Thank you for your attention to our concerns, Representative Shaw. Please don’t hesitate to contact us should you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Barbara A. Petersen, President

Cc: The Honorable Richard Corcoran, Speaker, Florida House of Representatives
Jon Kaney, General Counsel, First Amendment Foundation
Sam Morley, General Counsel, Florida Press Association
Gil Thelen, Executive Director, Florida Society of News Editors

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