Open Government Issues The ACLU of Rhode Island is Involved With - Court Cases, Legislation, News Releases

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Open Government

The ACLU of Rhode Island works daily to improve citizens' access to public records and meetings through litigation, public education and advocacy.  

Why is open government important?

  • Openness in government is a linchpin of democracy, ensuring that the voters have the information they need to choose their leaders and then evaluate their performance in office.
  • Public access to information is an essential tool in the fight against corruption in government.
  • Public access to information can save taxpayer dollars and expose poor government practices.

The public has the right to know what its government is doing. After all, isn't our government supposed to be "of the people, by the people, and for the people”?

Learn more about the RI Access to Public Records Act here.

Learn more about the RI Open Meetings Act here.

Open Government in the News

  • May, 17, 2018: Citing Public Right to Know, Open Government Groups Submit Brief for Release of 38 Studios Records
  • Feb, 02, 2018: ACLU Statement on Grand Jury Finding in Fatal Police Shooting of Joseph Santos
  • Jan, 02, 2018: ACLU Files New UHIP-Related Lawsuit Over Medicaid Termination Notices

View All Open Government Related News Releases »

Open Government Related Court Cases

2017: Lacoste v. RI State Police
Category: Active Case    Due Process    Fair Administration of Justice    Open Government    Police Practices    

 

About This Case:
This is a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the RI State Police for abusing their power by retaliating against a Warwick resident who declined to serve as an informant for the agency in an ongoing criminal investigation. The lawsuit argues that RISP relied on a dubious state law to bar the plaintiff from continuing to work at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln when she bowed out of assisting RISP as an informant.

Current Status:
Suit filed in November 2017.

ACLU Cooperating Attorney:
James W. Musgrave

Supporting Documents
2017: Brady v. Tamburini
Category: Active Case    Fair Administration of Justice    Free Speech    Open Government    Police Practices    Workplace Rights    

About This Case:
This is a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the Johnston Police Department on behalf of retired Detective James Brady, an 18-year veteran of the force.  The suit argues that Johnston Police Chief Richard Tamburini violated Brady’s free speech rights by disciplining him after he spoke to the news media about a matter of public concern.

Current Status:
Suit filed in October 2017.

ACLU Cooperating Attorney:
John W. Dineen

Supporting Documents

View All Right to Open Government Court Cases »

Open Government Related Legislation

Board of Elections Rule-Making (H 7438, S 2088) DIED
Category: 2018    Open Government    

In March, the ACLU testified before the House and Senate Judiciary committees in support of legislation by Rep. Joseph Shekarchi (7438) and Sen. Stephen Archambault (2088) to eliminate the exemption of the RI State Board of Elections from the rule-making provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). As it currently stands, the Board can adopt regulations affecting the voting process without having to go through a public notice or hearing process. 

The importance of the APA cannot be overstated. People have a right to know the laws and regulations they are supposed to abide by, and to have input into them. The Board of Elections is an important agency that sets the rules for implementing the democratic process of voting, and should not be allowed to operate in the dark; however, no action was taken on this bill.