That is the ruling today from Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court. The 6-1 decision allows the Attorney General to continue selectively releasing any communications.
“The emails only related to personal activity of individuals,” President Judge Dan Pellegrini wrote in the majority opinion. “As a result, the requested emails are not disclosable as records under the [law] merely because they were sent or received using an OAG email address or by virtue of their location on an OAG computer in violation of OAG policy.”
This decision concerned a Right to Know Law request by the Philadelphia Inquirer, which is one of several PA papers seeking the release of all emails.
“I would say that if communications regarding a particular subject matter are shown to be pervasive and widespread within an agency, they may reach the level of being an activity of that agency,” Judge Leadbetter wrote in her dissent. “Showing that such communications have reached that level will, no doubt, be a difficult burden to meet and, where the content is purely personal in nature, an exceedingly rare circumstance. Nonetheless, where a requester can meet that burden, I believe the information should be subject to disclosure.”
It is expected that the Inquirer will appeal and there still could be other cases from other newspapers.