Foiled! Letters Blogatory Turned Away At The Statehouse

There was a hearing today before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary of the Massachusetts legislature regarding the Uniform Foreign Court Money Judgment Act, which Massachusetts may adopt. The bill was introduced at the start of the current legislative session. I couldn’t attend the hearing, so I called the Committee’s offices to ask whether I could have a copy of the testimony. Here’s a summary of my phone call with a staffer.

Question: Can I have a copy of the testimony?

Answer: There is no video, and the testimony is not transcribed.

Question: Did witnesses provide prepared remarks in advance of the hearing?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Can I get a copy of those?

Answer: No.

Question: Why not?

Answer: They are not within the scope of the Massachusetts Public Records Law (our equivalent of the Freedom of Information Act).

Question (to myself, not to the staffer): So what? Just because you don’t have to give me copies doesn’t mean you can’t.

Question (to the staffer): Can I get a list of the witnesses who testified?

Answer: No.

This is ridiculous. I hope those of you who live in Massachusetts will take a minute to call your representatives and senators and tell them that legislative committees should work transparently. It’s as though this hearing dropped down the memory hole.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jonathan S. Shefftz

    This is very surprising. I live in Massachusetts and am the chair of our town’s planning board. All our proceedings are governed by the Open Meeting Law. This is certainly not the attitude you would encounter from our municipal employees here.

    1. Ted Folkman

      The legislature, in its wisdom, has exempted itself from the Open Meeting Law and the Public Records Law. Check out the discussion on Blue Mass Group here and here. I am on the warpath and trying to push for change on this issue. Stay tuned.

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