Legal Update

From the Legal Hotline (877-NEWS-LAW)

Extensive use fees, medical marijuana ads and more in today’s Legal Hotline recap.

Q. Do you happen to know the Florida law that says we are allowed to run juvenile pictures and names if they are charged with a felony?

A. Nothing in the statutes pertains to the media running the pictures but here is the highlighted language that says pictures and names of a minor taken into custody or charged with a felony are not considered confidential/exempt public records solely due to the minor’s age:

985.04 – Oaths; records; confidential information.
(2)(a)1. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, the name, photograph, address, and crime or arrest report of a child:
a. Taken into custody by a law enforcement officer for a violation of law which, if committed by an adult, would be a felony;
b. Charged with a violation of law which, if committed by an adult, would be a felony;
c. Found to have committed an offense which, if committed by an adult, would be a felony; or
d. Transferred to adult court pursuant to part X of this chapter, are not considered confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) solely because of the child’s age.


Q. We received the following letter to the editor:

Ladies, please consider the following: 1. Long, straight hair gives you that witchy look. 2. Facial studs and rings give you that ugly look. 3. Tattoos give you that incarcerated, prison look. 4. None of the above give you that attractive, lady-like look that men find very appealing.

Not surprisingly, we received a couple of responses from the female perspective.

We don’t want to become a he-said/she-said vehicle here. What do you think about us printing a couple and toning it down? Also, we would like to print an editor’s note such as:

While we believe in the First Amendment and we respect and are happy to share differing views from our readers, we also realize that not all opinions should be shared in print. We will review our letter submission policy and make changes that will allow letters only dealing with issues of importance.

Is there any problem with that? Would you recommend something else?

A. As you note, you have discretion to print or not print what you want to and if you want to tone it down that’s perfectly fine.  The paper is not an unlimited open forum and you have control.  Also, if you want to print your policy on submissions that’s fine too.  Hope that helps.


Q. We have requested public records from our city clerk. The clerk says for us to review the records (instead of obtaining copies) would be just as expensive because they still have to redact exempted information.   They point to section 119.07(4)(d), F.S. that allows them to charge for extensive use of technology or clerical/ supervisory assistance in addition to copy costs if it is based on actual agency costs.  They estimate $150 in personnel costs based on 3.0 hours of time.

At this point, I’m about ready to throw in the towel and pay the charge. But I thought I’d let you see where we are. Both the reporter and I think we’re being stonewalled.  Can you advise us on whether the city’s position on fees regarding our request for records seems excessive to you?

A. We asked Barbara Petersen to weigh in on this question since she has had a lot of experience dealing with these charges. She advises–

Who is doing the reviewing?  Is it the lowest paid person capable of  performing the task?  How many records are responsive to the request?  What is the city’s definition of “extensive?”  These are the basic questions for every assertion of an extensive use fee.

$50/hour (including benefits) doesn’t seem outrageous to me, but I would want to know what benefits – I’ve seen some agencies try to include FICA and other payroll taxes under benefits.  That’s not allowed.

It’s hard to say whether 3 hours is reasonable w/o knowing how many records are responsive to the request.

And we also have to know how the city defines “extensive.”  If it’s 30 minutes or more, for example, and the request takes 3 hours, then the county can charge only for 2.5 hours of extensive use time.

Honestly, compared to other estimates I’ve seen, $150 doesn’t seem excessive, but I think its good practice to ask the questions.


Q. One of our papers is getting requests from medical marijuana dispensaries to place ads without a doctor affiliated with it. We’ve been requiring a doctor’s name in the ad. How should we handle those ads without a physician?

A. I think its fine to have a physician’s name in the ad but it is not specifically required for on-line dispensary ads.  For such dispensary ads, the main requirement is that there must be approval from DOH. As a result, whether or not the ads reference a physician, I think the advertiser (or the dispensary the ad refers to) should be providing such evidence before the digital ad runs.