Posts tagged "1010517"

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Department of Agricultural Resources, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-105-17)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-12207   PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS, INC.  vs.  DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES & another.[1]       Suffolk.     February 6, 2017. – June 14, 2017.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Lenk, Gaziano, Lowy, & Budd, JJ.     Public Records.  Agriculture.  Animal.  Statute, Construction.  Privacy.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on October 14, 2014.   The case was heard by Christopher J. Muse, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     David Milton for the plaintiff. Amy Spector, Assistant Attorney General, for the defendants. Laura Rótolo & Jessie Rossman, for American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, amicus curiae, submitted a brief. Jessica White, for Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.     LENK, J.  This case concerns the scope of two exemptions from the statutory definition of “public records.”  Specifically, it probes whether information, such as names, addresses, telephone numbers, and other information, contained on animal health certificates in the custody of the Department of Agricultural Resources, is subject to disclosure in response to a public records request.  A Superior Court judge determined that such information is protected from disclosure under statutory exemptions G. L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth (n) and (c), implicating, respectively, public safety and privacy.  For the reasons that follow, we vacate that order and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.[2] Background.  1.  Public records framework.  At all times relevant to this case, two statutes governed access to public records:  G. L. c. 66, § 10, and G. L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth.[3]  General Laws c. 66, § 10, sets forth the conditions under which government entities, through their records custodians, must provide access to public records.  “The primary purpose of G. L. c. 66, § 10, is to give the public broad access to governmental records.”  Worcester Tel. & Gazette Corp. v. Chief of Police of Worcester, 436 Mass. 378, 382-383 (2002). The term “public records,” in turn, is defined by G. L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth.  The definition sweeps in a wide array of documents and data made or received by employees, agencies, or other instrumentalities of the Commonwealth.  See Hull Mun. Lighting Plant v. Massachusetts Mun. Wholesale Elec. Co., 414 Mass. 609, 614 (1993), citing G. L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth (1990 ed.).  This expansive definition of “public records” is statutorily limited by twenty enumerated exemptions in G. L. […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - June 14, 2017 at 8:09 pm

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