From the Legal Hotline (1-877-NEWS-LAW)

From the Legal Hotline (1-877-NEWS-LAW)

Q. I was able to get my periodical permit finalized. It was no easy feat. So, we’ll be doing legal advertising again. I read your Q&A on the PN resource page about what is necessary after Jan. 1 and I’m not clear on one thing. Prior to Jan. 1, 2023, it was an audit proving 10% reach (print & digital audience counts) or periodical permit. Now, is it 10% household reach (print & digital audience counts) and a periodical permit? Thanks for helping me wrap my head around this.

A. No, the current requirement is either/or. If you have a permit, you are good to go; there is no need to show audience thresholds.

Q. Quick question. I thought a newspaper wasn’t allowed to name a juvenile for being arrested. Yes, I’m old school. We have received a press release from our police department naming a 16 year old for images of child pornography. The PD has named him in the release.
Is it legal to run the name?

A. There is no (constitutional) law that prohibits newspapers from printing the names of minors. Having a public record naming the minor makes it even cleaner. To me, it is merely a question of the newspaper’s own policies – do you have any policy against publishing the names of minors charged with crimes? If so, do you run such images only on the digital version and not in print? You can craft your policies as you see fit.

Q. Sorry to bother you with this, but before I act I want to make sure I’m not violating some Florida statute I don’t know about… In 2019, we ran a probate notice that included an executor who is an out-of-state law enforcement officer. He is now asking us to pull the legal off our site due to laws up there protecting addresses of officers. I know we have the same kind of laws, but I also know this gentleman willingly put his address on the notice we ran. Am I allowed to pull down a published legal notice due to request, when the notice isn’t wrong? Also, I have no idea how I would pull this off the statewide site, and he didn’t mention that in his request, anyway.

A. The newspaper doesn’t have any obligation to keep this information confidential or to take down postings. The public records confidentiality law, to the extent it is applicable, applies only to agencies that are custodians of such information.

Q. Members of our school board sometimes continue conversations among themselves and the chair has emailed others after the meeting has adjourned. I have a witness statement on the post-meeting action. I also have emails of the discussion that followed. Do these activities violate the Sunshine Law?

A.Regarding the first issue where the school board adjourned the meeting and other members continued to discuss the matter, my thought is that once the meeting was adjourned, communications on the matter should have ceased. If further action/discussion was/is needed to complete business on the matter, a second meeting should be reconvened at a later date and it should be noticed. It looks like the board was attempting to do that by setting a new date for a workshop although this was done after the meeting was adjourned. If that is the case, they need to provide “reasonable notice” of the reconvened meeting so the public is informed.

As to the email communications between the chair and other members after the meeting was adjourned, the SL requires boards to meet in public. They may not take action or engage in private discussions of board business via written correspondence including emails (and texts).

I have AGOs on these points but I would think the school board should be aware of them.

Q. What are the latest developments regarding the Marsy’s Law appeal?

A. The Florida Supreme Court is reviewing the Tallahassee police department’s attempt to keep police officers’ identities secret under ML in two separate police shootings where suspects brandished deadly weapons. The Court has allowed a group of media entities including FPA to file a brief as amici curiae. The Court heard oral argument on December 7. The media coalition (which includes FPA) shared time with the City of Tallahassee in arguing officers’ identities should not be kept secret. While the court seemed underwhelmed by several arguments, they were interested in the argument that the identities are waived because that information will be revealed anyway in the criminal process and their name is on their badge. No decision as of this date; we will update membership after it’s issued.