Thursday, May 21, 2009

MSU Newspaper Prevails in Open Records Contest Vs. University

The State News, Michigan State University’s student newspaper, has prevailed after working diligently on an open records case concerning a 2006 campus assault. The case involved one student and two nonstudents charged in connection with pointing a gun at three people and pouring gasoline on one of them.
The original FOIA request goes back to March 2, 2006 as part of what should have been routine reporting of a pretty serious crime, a crime that other students should have been privy to every detail (especially considering the cost of tuition).
This week Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Joyce Draganchuk “ruled MSU must release the incident reports, which occurred on Feb. 24, 2006, as well as police officer names and suspect mug shots that were previously withheld,” according to the State News.
Draganchuk originally had ruled with the university, but was reversed on appeal by the Michigan Supreme Court.
The judge clearly came down against open records the first time, and she is a heavily lobbied establishment judge who was bound to side with the state. Further, an appellate court panel identified several errors committed by the circuit court, as noted in the Michigan Supreme Court's opinion. (posted below)
MSU appealed to the state Supreme Court, and so on.
The case has taken up plenty of taxpayer money and time. Now, over three years, later, the press appears to have prevailed. Perhaps small change in the overall scheme of things. But something to remember next election.

State News image by Flickr user CedarBendDrive CC 2.0
Mi Supreme Court Ruling in State News v. MSU

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