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FOIL Challenged in New York State Court of Appeals

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FOIL, the New York Freedom of Information Law, commonly used by investigative journalists, used to legally access unreleased government documents is being challenged in a New York appeals court in the case of Lesher vs. Hynes.

The case began when alleged child sex abuser Avrohom Mondrowitz fled Brooklyn for Israel in 1984 before a warrant for his arrest was issued. A jury later indicted Mondrowitz on five counts of first-degree sodomy, plus nine other crimes; however, the state continues to be unable to have Mondrowitz extradited back to the U.S. because of a decision by the Israeli Supreme Court in 2010.

According to the Legislative Gazette, Michael Lesher, an investigative journalist, filed a FOIL request in 2007 seeking all documents related to the Mondrowitz case from the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, which denied his requests. Lesher questions why King County District Attorney Charles Hynes did not seek extradition earlier, and believes documents from the case could provide insight. Hynes maintains that the information regarding the victims makes the documents too sensitive to release.

In his brief to the Court of Appeals, Lesher warned, “The Appellate Division’s holding in effect creates an altogether new FOIL exemption that would allow law enforcement agencies to assert ‘blanket’ withholding privileges for virtually all documents in the possession.” He also said, “At a minimum, I hope the court will reject the sweeping standard for withholding the D.A. is trying to advance. I also hope the court will define the limits of withholding for privacy purposes, particularly the definition of a ‘document’.” disclaimer: This article: FOIL Challenged in New York State Court of Appeals was posted on Friday, February 24th, 2012 at 9:34 pm at and is filed under Uncategorized.

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