August 26, 2015 – Orlando Sentinel
by Elyssa Cherney
A lawsuit filed by media outlets seeking 911 calls and radio transmissions from the Pulse shooting should proceed in state court and not federal court, a judge ruled Thursday.
The decision settles a dispute over venue, or which courts have jurisdiction to hear the case. The FBI and the city of Orlando opposed the transfer. U.S. District Judge Paul Byron handed down the ruling after deliberating since Aug. 18, when both sides presented their arguments.
Attorneys for 27 news organizations — including the Orlando Sentinel, CNN and Politico — said the case should continue in state court because the issue in question is Florida’s public-records law. The FBI, however, contended the case should remain in federal court because it involved a federal agency.
Byron’s ruling turned on a procedural matter: For the FBI to be sued, Congress would have to pass a measure waiving the agency’s immunity, the judge ruled. Congress has not done that, and the FBI did not address the issue in its argument, Byron wrote. As a result, the FBI will be removed as a defendant and the case sent back to state court. [READ MORE]