The conversation focused on the Right-to-Know Law and the unique role played by District Attorneys in terms of hearing appeals filed which are related to law enforcement records held by local agencies such as police departments. (Section 503(d)(2) of the RTKL.) It was a great conversation, and I appreciate the invitation.
On November 22, 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that District Attorneys are not judicial agencies under the Right-to-Know Law (RTKL).
In the majority opinion in the case of Stacy Parks Miller v. Centre County, authored by Justice Wecht, the Supreme Court held that: “Examination of the RTKL, the definitional section of the Judicial Code, 42 Pa.C.S. § 102, and the definitions provided in our Rules of Judicial Administration, demonstrate that a district attorney’s office is not a ‘judicial agency’ for purposes of the RTKL.”
The majority opinion was joined by Chief Justice Saylor and Justices Baer, Todd and Mundy. Justice Donohue authored a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Dougherty.
The distinction is significant because the RTKL applies in a very limited fashion to judicial agencies, which are required to provide only financial records. The law’s application to local agencies is much broader.