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Court Cases

The New York Coalition for Open Government is a non-partisan,
non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the people’s right to know
in matters of public interest and the public’s business.

On a case-by-case basis, the Coalition initiates or supports litigation
to further its mission.

Current Court Cases (2023/2024)

City Official Pay Raises in Buffalo: A Story of Arrogance & Greed

Elected Officials in Buffalo worked together to fast track pay raises for themselves . They were in such a hurry that they violated Common Council meeting rules, the City Charter and the Open Meetings Law on multiple occasions. Despite being informed that they were not following the law, the Council, and the Mayor did it anyway. They figured no one would spend the time and the money to challenge their illegal actions.

They were wrong.

It matters when Council meeting rules are violated, it matters when the City Charter is ignored and it matters when the public is kept in the dark through violations of the Open Meetings Law.

The New York Coalition For Open Government and two brave city residents Nathan Feist and Matthew Austin have filed a lawsuit to hold government officials accountable for their illegal actions.

We are a non-profit organization consisting of volunteers. Please consider supporting us with a donation so that we can continue our legal battles to hold the government accountable.

Past Court Cases

Niagara County Lawsuit

Through reports by Mark Scheer of the Niagara Gazette,  the Coalition learned that Niagara County refused to provide copies of annual financial disclosure forms completed by county legislators. Niagara County went so far as to pass a local law in 1996 stating their disclosure forms were secret and could not be viewed by the public. The Coalition advised Niagara County that their local law was in violation of the state Freedom of Information Law. We encouraged them to change their law, and they refused, so we sued them with the assistance of the University at Buffalo Law School and won!

Appellate Advocates v NY State Dept of Corrections

Appellate Advocates submitted a FOIL request to the NYS Department of Corrections seeking among other things training materials presented to the board of parole. Some training materials were produced but others were withheld under FOIL exemptions for intra agency materials and materials protected by attorney client privilege. The Supreme Court sided with the government, holding that the materials were exempt from disclosure.

Our brief with the assistance of the University at Buffalo Law School highlighted that the attorney client privilege should be narrowly applied in the government context and does not cover materials that constitute the working law of the agency. In essence we argued against applying the attorney-client privilege to anything and everything written by an attorney. The Appellate Division did not rule in our favor but two dissenting Justices did support our argument.

Court Documents

Appellate Advocates Brief