Victim Privacy Task Force Meets to Discuss Final Report

Jan 24, 2014

James Smith, president of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information.
Credit CT-N

The state's Task Force on Victim Privacy and the Public's Right to Know met on Friday to consider approval of its final report, which passed by a 15-2 vote and now heads to the General Assembly.

The task force was created in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown to "consider and make recommendations regarding the balance between victim privacy under the Freedom of Information Act and the public's right to know." Legislation passed last year temporarily withheld much of the evidence gathered from the Sandy Hook shootings.

The task force agreed by a 14-3 vote last month to a compromise. In the case of a homicide, someone would be able to privately view evidence gathered from the crime, but would not be allowed to reproduce, or report on, any of that information unless they filed a motion with the state Freedom of Information Commission. Currently, evidence gathered from a homicide is considered public information.

Those on the panel who voted against the compromise say it jeopardizes the public's right to know. Connecticut's Chief Public Defender Susan Storey said, "My statement speaks for itself, on the importance of a free flow of information. I think curtailing that free flow of information is injurious to the justice system."

The task force's final report will be submitted to the General Assembly. It can then adopt all, some, or none of the task force's recommendations.