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PR 14-39 Providence Journal v. City of Providence – No Violation

On September 15, 2014, the Complainant requested data and images extracted from an individual's cell phone during a search warrant. On September 26, 2014, the City denied the APRA request, citing, among other provisions, R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-2(4)(D)(c), which exempts from public disclosure documents maintained by law enforcement agencies for criminal law enforcement purposes where disclosure "could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." On October 2, 2014, the Providence County Superior Court enjoined the Department of Attorney General and the City from disclosing, among other documents, the electronic cellular telephone data the Complainant sought. Considering the Superior Court's October 2, 2014 order, the City's reliance on this order in denying the appeal, and that the Superior Court's order remained in effect at the time the Complainant's appeal was considered and denied, this Department cannot find that the City violated the APRA when it denied the APRA request. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-2(4)(S). Disclosure was prohibited by court order.

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