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January 5, 2021

Press Release
Tristan P. Colangelo, Kate R. Cook

Sugarman Rogers Secures Important Public Records Law Ruling

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Sugarman Rogers teamed up with ACLU of Massachusetts on behalf of Rahimah Rahim, the mother of a man killed by law enforcement officers, to score a significant public records law victory in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Ms. Rahim is represented by Sugarman Rogers lawyers Kate Cook and Tristan Colangelo, as pro bono counsel, along with Matthew Segal, Jessie Rossman, and Laura Rotolo of the ACLU of Massachusetts.

Ms. Rahim sought records from the Suffolk County District Attorney relating to her son’s shooting, but her request was denied by both the District Attorney and the trial court on the ground that the records were federal property not subject to the Massachusetts public records law. The United States filed an amicus brief and participated in oral argument before the Supreme Judicial Court in support of the District Attorney. Both claimed that an agreement between the FBI and the DA to treat the records as “on loan” should control. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rejected these arguments, confirming that federal records received by Massachusetts agencies are subject to the public records law and that Massachusetts agencies are not free to enter interagency agreements to shield such records from disclosure to the public. Counsel for Ms. Rahim successfully argued that allowing state agencies to keep records from public view by characterizing them as “on loan” or as federal property would render a large swath of otherwise public records outside the public’s reach.

“We are so pleased we obtained this important victory for Ms. Rahim and for open government and police accountability,” said Sugarman Rogers partner Kate Cook, who argued the case before the Court.

As a law firm with many decades of committed service to promoting civil liberties, Sugarman Rogers is proud to work alongside the ACLU of Massachusetts in promoting open government and police accountability. To learn more about Sugarman Rogers’ pro bono work, click here.

 

About Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C.
Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C. is one of Boston’s premier litigation firms with more than 90 years of success in counseling individual and business clients on litigation risks, and handling complex commercial and other disputes in Massachusetts, in New England, and across the nation.