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New York civil service job defense attorneysFederal and state governments operate on complex set laws, rules, policies and procedures, some of which go back to even before the country’s birth. One of these laws in New York is the Freedom of Information Law. This law is intended to provide the public with access to information regarding the goings-on in government. In enacting this law, the New York Legislature declared that government is “the public’s business and that the public, individually and collectively and represented by a free press, should have access to the records of government” as provided under the law.

Getting Access to Government Information and Exceptions to Freedom of Information Law

Freedom of information laws such as these are designed give the public access to information about what the government has done or is doing through its actors and agents. However, all manner of restrictions and exceptions by the affected agencies can make it almost impossible for the average citizen to know what happened or what is going on. Restrictions may apply for a variety of reasons, including national security and personal privacy concerns.

Civil Law 50-a is a section of the New York Civil Rights Law that puts restrictions on releasing to the public certain information deemed to be “personal records” of police officers, firefighters, and corrections officers. This information is precluded from release to the public on the basis it is confidential and therefore “not subject to inspection or review” without the affected officer’s permission.

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Brooklyn police discipline defense attorney

In New York, state law NYCL CVR Section 50-a prohibits the release of the personnel records of certain occupations, including corrections officers, firefighters, and EMTs. However, police officers are the occupation most commonly associated with this law, and information about certain types of police disciplinary actions is not disclosable to the public or the media. 

By blocking public disclosure of these records, Section 50-a protects police officers from retaliation by criminals and prevents defense attorneys from using a police officer’s disciplinary record to discredit their testimony in a criminal trial. This law also protects police officers from being publicly vilified on the basis of unverified or unsubstantiated accusations or because of disciplinary actions that are unrelated to the cases they are involved in.

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