Wednesday, April 01, 2009

PA Supreme Court bans paper's access to cell phone bills

December 22, 2008 | Filed in: Open records | Cell phone records
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A newspaper cannot view all the information in the cell phone records of two Pittsburgh City Council members, Pennsylvania's highest court has ruled.


The state Supreme Court said in its unanimous ruling Thursday that there is a strong privacy interest in shielding the numbers of people the council members called and of those who called the lawmakers on their city-paid cell phones.

"Appellants have failed to set forth any cogent argument that the disclosure of the telephone numbers ... would serve a strong public function," Justice Seamus McCaffery wrote in the opinion.

The decision upheld a 2005 Commonwealth Court ruling that said the telephone numbers must be redacted before the records could be released.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in 2003 sought records from Jan. 1, 2002, through Aug. 1, 2003, for the city-paid cell phones issued to all council members and then-Mayor Tom Murphy. The newspaper sued after council members Leonard Bodack and Barbara Burns refused to release their records...

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