Updates on cases, laws, and other topics of interest to local governments

Subscribe by Email

Enter your Email:
Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe in a Reader

Follow Municipal Minute on Twitter


Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Monday, September 9, 2013

No Constitutional Right to Photograph Public Records

Plaintiff was hired to perform a title search in Ward County, Texas.  When inspecting the records in the clerk’s office,  he took photographs of the records on his cell phone.  He was told that if he did not stop taking photographs, he would be arrested. Subsequently, he was terminated from the job, and filed suit against the county and county clerk, claiming that the county's “no photograph policy” violated his due process rights. He also claimed that he was denied equal protection when the county refused to accommodate his physical disability and that he should be awarded damages because he was fired from his job.  The district court ruled in favor of the county, and the Fifth Circuit affirmed, rejecting all of Bonnet's claims. Bonnet v. Ward County, No. 13-50007 (5th Cir. Aug. 30, 2013).
The Circuit first held that there is no protected right to access particular government information or sources of information under U.S. Supreme Court precedent.  Even if such a right existed, the plaintiff was not deprived of it because he had access to the records - he simply could not photograph them. The court held that the county's rationale for the policy – that records that were copied or photographed were often lost or misplaced by the user - was reasonable.


Post a Comment