Lynne Liberato in Law360: 1st Amendment Orgs Back Wide View Of Texas Public Info Act

05/07/2015

A pair of Texas First Amendment groups have asked the Texas Supreme Court to rule that nonprofit Greater Houston Partnership's public funding qualifies it as a governmental body under the state's Public Information Act and should be required to comply with a public records request from 2008.

The organization is appealing a trial court's ruling that ordered the nonprofit to turn over financial information to a citizen who filed a PIA request, a decision that was affirmed by a Texas court of appeals in 2013. That appeals court said that the organization's receipt of Houston public funds “to provide economic development and promotion services” qualifies the partnership as a governmental body subject to the PIA...

"The unpredictable application of the amorphous Kneeland test makes it impossible for a private corporation to predict whether all of its private documents will be  subject to disclosure," Lynne Liberato of Haynes and Boone LLP, representing GHP, told Law360. "The Greater Houston Partnership, as proved by its recent relinquishment of its government contracts, would not have contracted with the City of Houston if it had known that Kneeland would be applied in this way."

While the test may have been used for years, it has never been reviewed by a Texas appellate court, Liberato added.

"Bad law is bad law no matter how long it has been around," she said.

Excerpted from Law360. To read the full article, click here (subscription required).

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