Tuesday, November 11, 2014

open records - right to know law - request must be addressed to agency open-records officer

Gaming Control Board v. Office of Open Records – Pa. Supreme Court – November 10, 2014

In this open-records matter, we are called upon to construe Section 703 of the Right-to-Know Law (RTKL), 65 P.S. § 67.703 (“Section 703”), setting forth the  requirements for written RTKL requests for access to public records, to determine proper application of the provision which directs that all such requests “must be addressed to the open-records officer.”
For reasons stated below, we hold that in order to establish a valid RTKL request sufficient to trigger appellate rights from a nonresponse under the RTKL, the requestor must address his request to the respective open-records officer as mandated in Section 703.  In the case at bar, the requester addressed his request to a press aide, not the open records officer.
Commonwealth Court 4-3 decision reversed.


custody - jurisdiction - UCCJEA sec. 5423

TAM v. SLM and DMS – Superior Court – November 7, 2014

Non-custodial father's complaint to modify was properly addressed to Pennsylvania court, where

            - original order was entered in Tennessee in 2004

            - Mother was missing – disappearance being investigaged as homicice

            - pursuant to Tennessee order in 2011, maternal grandmother had physical custody of the  child in Pennsylvania , which is home state under secs. 5421 and 5423

            - grandmother's assertion that father was judge-shopping irrelevant to jurisdictional issue.*

* Tennessee judge "has found the father to be a despicable individual"

terroristic threats - out-of-state threats - jurisdiction

Commonwealth v. Vergilio – Superior Court – November 6, 2014

Pennsylvania court has juridiction over crime of terroristic threats, 18 Pa. C.S. 2706(a)(1), where the plaintiff was in Pennsylvania and heard the threats of defendant, who was in New Jersey, on the telephone.

Current technology that creates a “seemingly unlimited ability to connect people near and far.”  A contrary holding would render an offender who utters a threatening message in one state immune from suit in any and all other states to which he intentionally sends his illegal communication.

Long-standing principles in this Commonwealth hold that “[a]cts done outside a jurisdiction, but intended to produce and producing detrimental effects[7] within it, justify a state in punishing the cause of the harm. . . .”

Although our extensive research of this issue did not reveal any Pennsylvania caselaw that has addressed the specific issue presented here,8 we find the pertinent caselaw of other jurisdictions to be (citing caselaw from Kansas, Minnesota, Hawaii).