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Sunday, April 5, 2020

Newspaper takes the city of Odessa to court over redacted police reports

Local Government

By Joe Chen | Feb 12, 2020


The Odessa American newspaper recently filed a lawsuit against the city of Odessa over allegations the city violated the Texas Public Information Act (TPIA) after the paper has strugged for months to obtain unredacted public criminal records in a timely manner. 

The Odessa American alleges the city of Odessa has been releasing heavily blacked-out police reports to it days or weeks after they are requested. Prior to the Odessa mass shooting on Aug. 31, 2019, the Odessa American alleges it received all requested police reports from the municipal court within a few hours. After the incident, the city of Odessa has been withholding criminal records until they are vetted and censored by city lawyers. 

The Odessa American believes the vetting process is not only wasting taxpayer’s money but is also illegal.

“All of this information has always been immediately available for review by the public and the media and there is no legal or other justification for the city’s change in course,” John Bussian, media law specialist, said in an article published by the newspaper. 

The lawsuit is seeking to put an end to the delaying and censoring of public criminal records as well as full reimbursement for the Odessa American’s legal fees. 

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