For Reno lawyer Scott Glogovac, a vital part of democracy is the public’s right to know what its government is doing. And he’s going to fight to make sure that right is fully upheld.
“I try to help the Reno Gazette-Journal with news gathering and access to government,” Glogovac, 57, said of his role as outside legal counsel for Reno Newspapers Inc. since 1997.
Glogovac said that there are three principal aspects of law that help a reporter in the role of public watchdog: public records law, open meeting law and public access to trials.
While Glogovac said that there is “institutional resistance” on the part of government agencies to give reporters information, his job is to see to it that what should be accessible is.
“I see the worst of the worst,” Glogovac said of government agencies’ resistance to allowing media access to public records, “because I just see what the Reno Gazette-Journal brings to me.”
At the federal level, the Freedom of Information Act demands disclosure of many documents controlled by the federal government. At the state level, Nevada turns to Nevada Revised Statute 239.010 for guidance, Glogovac said.
To illustrate the use of public records law, Glogovac recounted a case where an RGJ reporter requested all records on then-Gov. Jim Gibbons’ gun permits. The sheriff said concealed weapons records were confidential. The newspaper sued to get access and won.
“Nevada Supreme Court is really good in public records cases, “ Glogovac said.
With technology quickly expanding “records” to emails, text messages, etc., Glogovac said the legal world is waiting for a court ruling on whether or not any document created on a government device will be presumed public.
“Citizens should know what’s going on,” he said, and balancing personal information with public need is at the heart of public records law.
In open meeting law, Nevada Revised Statute Chapter 241 says that any decision-making entities that exist through taxpayer funds must be open to the public.
There are exceptions to what constitutes a meeting such as social situations and some legal and competency discussions, but Glogovac said, “It’s actually a very good law.”
Whereas open records law and open meetings law came about through the legislature, access to judicial proceedings is guaranteed through judge-made laws.
While there can be a limitation put on public assess to court proceedings if access jeopardizes a fair trial, generally “there aren’t a lot of issues,” Glogovac said of open courtrooms in Nevada.
Being able to share information with the public is an important part of what media does, Glogovac emphasized, and the law is able to help if reporters know how to use it well.