Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting Wins Public Records Dispute with York County Jail
In August 2021, Preti Flaherty media client The Maine Monitor filed a lawsuit against York County for public records about the County Jail’s surveillance of phone calls between county jail inmates and their attorneys. Preti Flaherty media lawyer Sig Schutz, in collaboration with Yale Law School’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, represented the Maine Monitor.
On September 6, 2023, Superior Court Justice Julia Lipez ordered York County to provide the records to The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, the nonprofit that publishes The Maine Monitor, handing down a victory in the two-year legal battle to protect access to public records.
The Monitor’s reporting exposed a “major problem,” said Sigmund Schutz, a partner at the law firm Preti Flaherty who represented the news organization in court. State lawmakers made multiple changes to state law this year in response to the Monitor’s investigation.
“It’s an example of how public records are integral to watchdog journalism,” Schutz said. . . . He added, “people in jail in Maine can have much more confidence that (the) government won’t eavesdrop on their conversations with their lawyers. That’s a good thing for our criminal justice system.”