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Jan 21, 2021

No private cause of action for FOIA violation, COA rules

Not unlike the famous quote that begins episodes of the television show Law & Order, in South Carolina the guarantee of open government is protected by two separate, yet equally important statutes: the Public Records Act, which governs the records government agencies must keep, and the Freedom of Information Act, which governs what they must […]

Oct 17, 2019

FOIA challenge to hotel’s approval swatted back

  The South Carolina Court of Appeals has affirmed a review board’s decision to give the green light to a proposed mixed-use development in Summerville—more than four years after the board gave the project its approval. In 2014, the Town of Summerville and its redevelopment corporation entered into a public-private partnership agreement with developer Applegate […]

Aug 20, 2019

Attorneys recover fees for school shooting video request

  The attorneys representing the estate of a Townville boy who was shot and killed at school have recouped $16,815 in attorneys’ fees for their work requesting the school video of the shooting through the Freedom of Information Act, the attorneys report. Field Dunaway and Tom W. Dunaway of Dunaway Law Firm in Anderson represent […]

Jan 18, 2019

County estimates $75,000 for records; cities offer for free

One coastal South Carolina government wanted to charge a newspaper $75,000 for a public records request that other governments filled for free. The Sun News of Myrtle Beach used a Freedom of Information Act request to ask for all records on payments to settle lawsuits or threats to sue over the past five years. Horry […]

Jun 1, 2018

Civil Rights – FOIA – Attorneys’ Fees – Unsupported Rate

After ruling for plaintiff on his claim under the Freedom of Information Act, the circuit court awarded plaintiff attorneys’ fees but failed to consider all the factors set out in Burton v. York Cty. Sheriff’s Dep’t, 358 S.C. 339, 594 S.E.2d 888 (Ct. App. 2004). The factors that the circuit court did consider support the […]

May 29, 2018

Chambers of commerce can use public money without being subject to FOIA

  A divided South Carolina Supreme Court has overturned a trial judge’s ruling that the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce is a public body under the state’s Freedom of Information Act—much to the dismay of some transparency advocates. “It certainly was a disappointment,” said Jay Bender, a Columbia media law attorney who filed an […]

May 29, 2018

Civil Rights – FOIA – Accommodations Tax – Designated Marketing Organization – Records Review

Although the defendant-chamber of commerce receives and spends public funds (from the accommodations tax (A-Tax)), the chamber is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Instead, the A-Tax statute and Proviso 39.2 of the Appropriation Act for Budget Year 2012–2013 (Proviso 39.2) provide a specific and comprehensive approach for the receipt, expenditure, and oversight […]

Mar 19, 2018

Civil Rights – FOIA – Attorneys – Discipline – Complaints against Solicitor

Because Rule 12(b), RLDE, indicates that lawyer disciplinary complaints do not become public until after formal charges are filed, and because no formal charges were filed against the defendant-solicitor, any disciplinary complaints against the solicitor would not be public documents, and she would not be required to disclose them pursuant to the Freedom of Information […]

Mar 15, 2018

UPDATE: Court of Appeals withdraws decision against Lawyers Weekly

The South Carolina Court of Appeals has inexplicably withdrawn a published opinion that had affirmed a trial judge’s order dismissing Lawyers Weekly’s public records lawsuit against 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson.

Oct 11, 2017

Public or private? Appellate court considers FOIA case against prosecutor

The South Carolina Court of Appeals heard arguments earlier this month in Lawyers Weekly’s public records lawsuit against 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson. The case of first impression centers on whether ethical complaints and disciplinary records related to a lawyer’s conduct as a public official should be kept private. Wilson’s attorney, J. Emory Smith Jr., […]

Feb 27, 2017

Lawmakers mull big changes to public records laws

South Carolina lawmakers are considering several bills that would bring significant changes to the state’s public records laws and create a new branch of the Administrative Law Court to consider requests made under the Freedom of Information Act. Under the main piece of legislation, House Bill 3352, the state’s public agencies would have to react […]

Apr 14, 2016

Municipal – FOIA – Town Council – Executive Sessions – Notice

Brock v. Town of Mount Pleasant (Lawyers Weekly No. 010-025-16, 7 pp.) (John Kittredge, J.) Appealed from Charleston County Circuit Court (J.C. Nicholson Jr., J.) On writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals. S.C. S. Ct. Holding: Special town council meetings require a posted agenda, though items outside the agenda may be added to […]

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