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Judge Upholds Open Government and Allows Videotaping of Utah State Committee Meetings
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2003
SALT LAKE CITY--The culmination of a seven-month
legal battle came on Thursday, February 20, 2003, when Third District
Court Judge Leslie Lewis, declared that videotaping of Utah State Child
Support Guidelines Advisory Committee meetings was permissible under
Utah’s Open and Public Meetings Act.
In proceeding years, Rick Curtis, a member of FOCUS,
an organization concerned with child support and custody laws, routinely
videotaped the monthly committee meetings, allowing other organizational
members who were not able to attend the meetings to watch the entire
proceedings and develop meaningful responses to the committees proposals.
Beginning in May of 2002, the committee refused to allow any further
videotaping of the meetings without a court order.
On July 26, 2002, Janelle Eurick, staff attorney for
the ACLU of Utah, filed a complaint on behalf of Mr. Curtis and FOCUS,
alleging the committee violated Utah’s Open and Public Meetings
law, as well as the very spirit of our constitutional democracy that
relies on the participation of an informed citizenry.
In preparing for Thursday’s court hearing, Ms.
Eurick stated, “The very idea of our participatory democracy depends
on an informed and active citizenry. In our age of technology, videotaping
has become and important tool for advocates like Rick Curtis.”
After reviewing all sides of the issue, Judge Lewis
declared that under the Open and Public Meetings Act, the committee
could not legally prohibit the videotaping of its monthly meetings as
long as those doing the recording did not create any disturbance in
the setting up and using of their equipment.