During oral argument today in an interesting Freedom of Information Act case involving historical records about Amy Archer Gilligan, the long-deceased murderer who inspired the play and movie “Arsenic and Old Lace,” Justice Andrew McDonald asked an interesting question about how a person becomes a public figure.
According to Hugh McQuaid’s story in ctnewsjunkie, Justice McDonald questioned the notion that a person can become a public figure (as that term is understood in the invasion of privacy exception to the FOIA) by having that status thrust upon them and whether that status, once acquired, can fade with the passage of time. He seemed skeptical of the first notion and supportive of the second.
This post is about how General Statutes section 1-2z, which codifies the “plain meaning rule” of statutory interpretation, can lead to judicial interpretations of statutes that are completely at odds with what everyone knows the legislature actually intended when passing a law. To illustrate my point, I examine legislation enacted in 2013 concerning homicide photographs.
If you are a CT-N junkie like me, or have been following reports in other media outlets concerning proposed legislation that would restrict access under the state Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) to crime scene photographs and 911 calls, you’ve probably heard many references to two court cases, one called “Perkins,” the other called “Favish.” The two cases establish different legal standards for determining when the public disclosure of a government document would constitute an invasion of someone’s personal privacy. In fact, Don DeCesare, the co-chairman of the Task Force on Victim Privacy and the Public’s Right to Know, jokingly said in testimony before a legislative committee two weeks ago that he wished he had never heard of those two cases. (They were discussed ad nauseam during task force meetings.)