FAF Letter to Sen. Rouson Re: SB 1202 Exemption/Email Addresses – Judges and Justices

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4 January 2018
The Honorable Darryl Evan Rouson
The Florida Senate
404 South Monroe Street, Room 212 Senate Office Building
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300

Re: SB 1202 Exemption/Email Addresses – Judges and Justices

Dear Senator Rouson:

We are writing to express our concerns regarding SB 1202, 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justification for the proposed exemption is constitutionally insufficient and we respectfully request that SB 1202 be withdrawn from further consideration.

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

Sincerely,
Barbara A. Petersen, President

Cc: The Honorable Joe Negron, President, The Florida Senate
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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