Pittsburgh Post Gazette wins open records appeal
Clients PG Publishing Company d/b/a Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Jones Day successfully defended The Pittsburgh Post Gazette (“Post Gazette”) and one of its reporters in an open records appeal. Curtis Mitchell died at home in a February 2010 snowstorm, approximately 30 hours after emergency medical crews were called. Exercising its rights under Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law, the Post-Gazette submitted a formal request to the City of Pittsburgh for settlement communications between the city and counsel for the Estate of Curtis Mitchell. The City denied the request, claiming the requested documents were exempt from disclosure under the attorney-client privilege, attorney work product doctrine, and the Federal Rules of Evidence. The Post-Gazette successfully appealed to the Office of Open Records, which ordered the City to disclose the requested documents. The City appealed to the Court of Common Pleas, claiming attorney-client privilege and asserting several new constitutional arguments. In two hearings, Jones Day successfully argued that there is no privilege for correspondence with opposing counsel and that the City’s new arguments were waived. The Court affirmed the Office of Open Records' determination and ordered the documents disclosed.
City of Pittsburgh v. Jonathan D. Silver and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, No. GD. 11-003642 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pl., Agh. County)