25th anniversary of the Utah Freedom of Information Hotline

The law firm of Parr Brown Gee & Loveless is pleased to announce the 25th anniversary of the Utah Freedom of Information Hotline – a firm-sponsored pro bono service that provides free legal assistance to Utah journalists and members of the public seeking access to government records, meetings, and judicial proceedings.

Parr Brown President Jeff Hunt, who founded the FOI Hotline in 1992, said the goal was to help journalists and members of the public exercise their rights under the First Amendment and Utah’s “sunshine laws” to obtain information about the workings of government and to hold public officials accountable.

“Access to government information and proceedings is critical to government accountability and public trust,” Hunt said.  “We are pleased to have provided this free legal resource for the past twenty-five years and look forward to operating the FOI Hotline for many more years to come.”

Since 1992, the FOI Hotline has received approximately 4,000 calls and served 45 local and national news organizations.  Parr Brown attorneys have donated more than 5,150 hours to the FOI Hotline, representing approximately $1.3 million in donated legal services.

Several open government issues that started with a call to the FOI Hotline ended up being litigated all the way to the Utah Supreme Court or spurred legislative changes by the Utah Legislature, including bills making police body camera footage presumptively public and strengthening Utah’s open records statute, the Government Records Access and Management Act, known as “GRAMA.”

Parr Brown operates the FOI Hotline as a public service in cooperation with the Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, whose mission is to promote the free flow of information to the public and protect the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and of the press.

Parr Brown has been honored locally and nationally for its operation of the FOI Hotline, including receiving the prestigious “National Sunshine Award” from the national Society of Professional Journalists.McKenzie Romero, President of the Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, said the Utah FOI Hotline has been a valuable resource for Utah journalists.

“For more than two decades journalists working in Utah have been able to turn to the FOI Hotline as they have told some of the state’s most important stories.  The attorneys who have staffed the Hotline have helped both reporters and members of the public to secure records and gain access to meetings that should be rightfully open.  Utah SPJ appreciates the 25 years of work that has been done and the stories that have been told, and we look forward to more in the future.”

The Utah FOI Hotline phone numbers are 1-800-574-4546 or 801-532-7840.  The Hotline can also be contacted here:https://parrbrown.com/services/the-utah-freedom-of-information-hotline/