2005 National FOI Day conference

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

  • Directions to the Freedom Forum

    U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a forceful advocate for open government since his days as Texas Attorney General, is the keynote speaker at the National Freedom of Information Day Conference.

    Other featured speakers at the seventh annual conference will be Floyd Abrams, one of the nation’s foremost First Amendment attorneys, and Lee Levine, First Amendment author and attorney.

    “Congress and the Courts: Confronting Secrecy” is the theme of this year’s conference, to be held as usual on James Madison’s birth date, Wednesday, March 16, at the Freedom Forum’s World Center in Arlington, Va.

    The conference brings together access advocates, government officials, lawyers, librarians, journalists, educators and others to discuss the latest issues and developments in freedom of information. It is sponsored by the First Amendment Center, in cooperation with the American Library Association.

    Cornyn will open the conference with remarks about his efforts in the U.S. Senate to strengthen access to government information. The conference program begins at 8:30 a.m. and concludes at 3:30 p.m.

    Abrams, who chaired the New York Commission on Public Access to Court Records, will speak on electronic access to court records, and Levine, an expert on FOI and press law, will speak on recent Supreme Court and federal court decisions affecting freedom of information.

    The FOI Day Conference comes midway through Sunshine Week, an initiative by news media and other organizations to create a public dialogue on the value of open government, which begins on March 13. On March 17 Missouri University’s journalism school has organized a program on the press and confidential sources at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

    Other FOI experts confirmed for the National FOI Day program include Andy Alexander, Cox Newspapers Washington bureau; Lucy Dalglish, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; Robert Deyling, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts; Jane Kirtley, University of Minnesota; Carol Melamed, Washington Post; Dan Metcalfe, Office of Information and Privacy in the Department of Justice; and Pete Weitzel, Coalition for Journalists for Open Government.

    The American Library Association also will present its annual James Madison Awards during the luncheon program.

    Among reports and surveys to be launched at this year’s conference: a First Amendment Center First Report on government secrecy; FOI Updates on federal legislation, recent court decisions and electronic access to court records; the Society of Professional Journalists’ new CD-ROM, “FOI Audit Toolkit”; and a special report on state FOI laws by the Marion Brechner Citizen Access Project.