McGeorge School of Law

Sunshine Week Sheds Light On Freedom Of Information

April 5, 2010

Judge Kenneth Peterson, attorney Charity Kenyon and journalist Marjie Lundstrom

Open government panelists, from left, Judge Kenneth Peterson, attorney Charity Kenyon and journalist Marjie Lundstrom

McGeorge hosted the 2010 Sunshine Week "Building Transparency" conference on March 24, 2010. The lecture hall program, co-sponsored by the Northern California Association of Law Libraries, is part of a national initiative to highlight the importance of open government to an informed citizenry.

In addition to a two-hour webcast from Washington, D.C., the event featured a panel of area experts on the topic. Attorney Charity Kenyon, Judge Kenneth Peterson and journalist Marjie Lundstrom comprised the Sacramento panel. They discussed the need for transparency in government at the local, state and federal level, and stressed the importance of fighting for full enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act.

Kenyon, commended McClatchy Newspapers, parent of The Sacramento Bee, for its willingness to use the litigation tool to protect the public's right to know. "My own observation," she said, "is that the growing reluctance by 'traditional' media to finance the open records and open hearing litigation of the past is rapidly jeopardizing the ability of citizens to monitor the workings of their government. Fortunately, with public records there is a hope of recovering at least a portion of the attorneys' fees and costs."

Michele Finerty, assistant director for Technical Services at the Gordon D. Schaber Law Library, organized the event and sees a bright future for it. "The program was a success," said Finerty. "The Sacramento League of Women Voters has expressed an interest in sponsoring it with us next year."