November 13, 2020 
Exposing Epstein's Evils: An Evening with Julie K. Brown and Emily Michot
Wed. December 2, 2020 7:30 PM
Join the First Amendment Foundation for "Exposing Epstein’s Evils: An Evening with Julie K. Brown and Emily Michot." The award-wining investigative reporter and photojournalist will share how they uncovered the Jeffrey Epstein story, which exposed his numerous sex crimes and cover-ups. Brown and Michot’s reporting for the Miami Herald highlights the importance of a free and independent press and the critical role journalists play in exposing crime and corruption. 

The virtual event will take place Wednesday, Dec. 2nd, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for general admission and $15 for students. All proceeds will enable us to support local, state, and national reporting, while educating the public on the right of access to government meetings and records. 
Marsy's Law Update
More law enforcement agencies are using Marsy’s Law to withhold the identities of officers using deadly force. Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2018, was intended to give various rights to crime victims. Yet, it has been used to hide the names of police officers involved in deadly shootings. Recently, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office refused to release the names of the two deputies involved in the death of a twenty-year-old, who investigators say was carrying a knife. The Palm Beach Post reports the deputies claimed they were victims of an assault by the deceased.

A recent analysis from ProPublica and USA Today found that at least half of Florida’s largest law enforcement agencies apply the law to withhold the names of officers – at least seven agencies have withheld the name of officers who have killed civilians. 

In a review of reports detailing use-of-force incidents, the report found that Collier and Charlotte County Sheriff’s Offices redacted deputies’ names in 1 in 6 incidents, and Hernando County withheld the name of officers in 1 in 3 incidents. However, the names of suspects, even juveniles and mentally ill, were rarely withheld. 

The First Amendment Foundation has reiterated that the law was meant to notify victims of criminal proceedings and protect victims from harassment by the accused – it was not meant to shield officers who use force. FAF President, Pamela Marsh, recently spoke with Jessica DeLeon of the Bradenton Herald, explaining that officers are already afforded protection under the Public Records Act and the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. As Marsh told the Herald, officers have power and privileges that civilians do not have – then when something goes wrong, officers want to hide. 

This past summer, a Leon Circuit Court ruled that Marsy’s Law should not apply to shield the identities of police from disclosure. After a police union sued the City of Tallahassee to block the release of officers’ names involved in a deadly shooting, Judge Charles Dodson explained that the law cannot be interpreted to “shield police officers from public scrutiny of their official actions.” When speaking to the Washington Post about the case, Marsh explained that the union is arguing “Marsy’s Law should apply to the police just like it applies to anyone…But police aren’t just anyone.” 

The police union appealed, and the case is currently before the First District Court of Appeals on expedited review. Ahead of the decision, we will continue to call for transparency among law enforcement. In order for the public to trust law enforcement, there must be transparency.