There is some controversy in Gregg Township, Centre County over Right to Know requests.
Two separate requests were made by a resident that were denied by the township, but was eventually granted by the State Office of Open Records. Now, the township is appealing those rulings in court.
The two pieces of information that a court will have to rule on are: the right of a citizen to obtain video surveillance footage of the gregg township building…and the right to obtain information exchanged between an attorney and their client.
According to the State Office of Open Records, which processes Right to Know request appeals…in order for a member of the public to gain information exchanged between an attorney and their client, there must be proof that the information was shared with a third party…and/or was made without the purpose of getting legal advice.
But even if this can’t be proved…
“The question then becomes…what are they claiming is attorney-client privilege information? Not everything can then become attorney-client privilege,” said Attorney Tony Deboef, Legal Analyst. “I can imagine it’s going to boil down to a judge looking at each document and deciding if it’s going to be excluded or not.”
And then there’s the question of releasing footage of video surveillance footage from the township’s building. There’s already been access granted to one security camera when the township missed the deadline to appeal a ruling, but there are rulings to access additional cameras…all of which are being appealed to a court.
“When you look at the camera’s for the security system, you can notice where the camera’s are in the building but you don’t know what angles those cameras cover,” he said. “So if we grant one security angle, and then we grant another security angle camera. People might be able to piece together where there might be some lacks in the video footage, and that may potentially cause harm for those using the building.”
The township resident looking to gain the security footage feels it should be allowed to the public, in part to help hold township employees accountable, for example, by ensuring that their hours logged match the time they were present at work.
The State Office of Open Records says that in order for the video footage to be withheld, the footage would have to be “reasonably likely” to threaten the public.
If a court rules that the video footage should be released, all citizens who ask for the footage would receive it.