Legal
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In January of this year, the Enhance Local Government Transparency Act (N.C. Senate Bill 473) made some important changes to our conflict-of-interest laws for public officials. Most notably, the bill … more
We all know that public records are the property of the people and that, generally speaking, public agencies can only charge you the costs of actual duplication – the cost of the paper, the ink … more
We all know that North Carolina law requires public bodies to follow the open meetings law, which essentially means three things: publishing notice, allowing public access and keeping minutes.  … more
The NC Public Records Law applies to public business documents made or received by a public agency or official.  G.S. § 132-1(a).  It doesn’t matter if they exist on an … more
If you’ve made a recent request under the NC Public Records Law, you may have noticed that some government agencies -- UNC-CH, Wake County, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and the city … more
  If you are covering a public body that has resumed meeting in person but is forcing you to participate remotely, they are breaking the law.   Over the past year, the pandemic … more
Elizabeth City Mayor Bettie Parker declared a State of Emergency that was amended on April 27 to impose a city-wide curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. This statement is to clarify that the curfew is not … more
With the General Assembly about to head home early last Friday morning, one of the strongest “right to know” voices in the NC House, Rep. Josh Dobson, advanced a public records … more
Once again, journalists find themselves at the intersection of indispensability and danger.  You are uniquely poised to be the eyes and ears of the public, to stand in their shoes, to report … more
Reporters covering government in the last two months know public bodies have changed their way of doing business. Members of the press were granted essential worker status, but that didn’t mean … more
     The Washington Post reports Capitol Hill is paralyzed over a failure to agree on a temporary remote Congressional hearing and voting bill.  Yet as Congress grapples … more
  Continuing on the theme of government transparency and how you get the information you need to cover the developing COVID-19 crisis, I have outlined here some principles to … more
As the toll of the coronavirus rises daily, we are getting calls about what to do if you cannot put out your print newspaper.  That might happen either because your advertising drops to the … more
I want to begin with my gratitude for the vital and hard work that you all have been doing to report on the coronavirus crisis.  Personally, I check five or six news websites about every hour to … more
I have fingers crossed that the many 2020 elections will bring an avalanche of ad dollars to your newspapers!  With those dollars come some regulation, though. Much as I think it is … more
Have you gotten a letter from someone asking you to take down an old story because the person has gotten their record expunged?  Or maybe a lawyer has written and cited G.S. § 15A-152, a … more
The 2019 'long' session of the General Assembly  -- the longest session in the past century -- ended with several special sessions devoted primarily to budget issues and saw the General Assembly … more
Question: A newspaper received notice of an emergency meeting of a college board of trustees with attorneys. The board has a track record of going into closed session to discuss financial issues, … more
Are you a reporter having trouble getting records from your local government, school board or the United Way? Are you a private citizen interested to know how you can keep track of the latest zoning … more
MAKING SENSE OF WHAT LOOKS LIKE NONSENSE Having trouble making sense of the constitutional amendments that will appear on the ballot this November? I am, and I’m a lawyer! As … more
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