At a victim's privacy task force meeting Wednesday, Freedom of Information experts and state officials talked over the details of what kind of information -- especially that from minors -- should be fair game for the press. It's been a high-priority question since last Wednesday, when the state's FOI commission ruled the Newtown Police Department must release 911 calls from the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
State attorney Stephen Sedensky, who argued against the release of the 911 calls alongside Newtown attorney Nathan Zezula, plans to appeal the decision. First Selectman Pat Llodra says the move will be "[Sedensky's] role" and the town will not pursue an appeal individually.
"I've discussed it with him and his intention is to file the appeal, and I support that," she said. "Trying to find a balance between the public's right to know and having as much transparency as possible, I'm very much an advocate of that. But I always want to have that balanced. There has to be some good that can be done and absence of harm. Who is it benefiting and who is it harming?"
Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists President Jodie Mozdzer Gill told Patch the organization was pleased with the FOI Commission's decision.
"If the case is appealed, as expected, we urge the higher courts to come to the same conclusion: that 911 calls are important public records," she said. "The 911 calls surrounding an incident allow the community and the press to assess official response, and to try to gain a better understanding about what happened. The decision of whether material is appropriate for publication or broadcast should not be made by the government. It should remain with the journalists, guided by the various journalistic codes of ethics."
The Victims' Privacy Task Force's discussion focused primarily on the definition of a minor -- in the words of FOI commission director Colleen Murphy, "Should young people get confidentiality by simple virtue of the fact they are young?"
The Connecticut legislature established the task force in response to concerns raised by family members of victims of the Dec. 14 shooting. Its next public hearing will be Wednesday, Oct. 9 in Bridgeport.
Paul Singley contributed to this report.