Steve Mandell Leads Discussion on Public Records Access at the ABA Annual Meeting CLE Showcase Program

Steve Mandell shared key insights on the media’s access to information as the moderator of an all-star panel at the 2018 ABA Annual Conference CLE Showcase Program “Hurdles and Hope: The Quest for Transparent Government in the U.S. and Abroad” in Chicago on August 3, 2018.


Highlighting examples from the 2014 Chicago Police Department shooting of Laquan McDonald to the Parkland, Florida, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School earlier this year, Steve led a discussion about the hurdles the media must overcome to gain access to information related to high-profile incidents using open records laws—particularly when potential officer misconduct is involved.


In both those cases, it took months and multiple open records requests for videos of the shootings to be released. The day the McDonald video was released, the officer who fired shots was charged with murder.


“The McDonald case is probably a good example of why public trust in government is at an all-time low,” Steve said.


The panel also included a number of high-profile experts with varying perspective on public records access in the United States and abroad, including:

  • Robert Litt, former general counsel to the U.S. director of national intelligence and of counsel with Morrison & Foerster
  • Laura Neuman, director of the Global Access to Information Program at the Carter Center
  • Drew Shenkman, senior counsel at CNN
  • Thomas Susman, director of the ABA Governmental Affairs Office, who helped write FOIA law as a congressional staffer in the 1970s


Read more about the panel in this recap from the ABA News.