This lawsuit challenges the City of Saratoga Springs’ refusal to disclose public records concerning its Police Department’s use of Tasers. After receiving reports that local police officers were inappropriately using Tasers, the NYCLU on April 13, 2009 filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request with the city for records concerning the Police Department’s use of the weapons. The request included any documents relating to policies and procedures for using Tasers and reports containing information about any incidents in which police have used Tasers. The city denied the records request entirely in a June 16 letter. The letter gave little justification for the blanket denial, but for a single sentence arguing that releasing the records would compromise the safety of police officers and the public. Additionally, the city failed to inform the NYCLU of its right to appeal the denial. Following the denial, the NYCLU sought an advisory opinion from the Committee on Open Government (COG).
On July 27, 2009, the COG issued an opinion that concluded that the city inappropriately engaged in a wholesale denial of records and that an agency has to review its records to determine which records, or portions of records, are exempt and which can be disclosed. The NYCLU filed the Article 78 petition on Oct. 15, 2009 in state Supreme Court in Saratoga County. The City released responsive documents, the majority of which were unredacted. However, it redacted small portions of a General Order on the use of force. The NYCLU opposed these redactions on March 31, 2010. In a ruling issued on May 10, 2010, Supreme Court Judge Thomas Nolan, Jr. ordered the city to turnover an unredacted copy of the document.
State Supreme Court, Saratoga County, Index No. 09/4158 (direct)