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      Commonwealth Law News

      Commonwealth Court Judge Gives First Lecture as Jurist in Residence

      Judge P. Kevin Brobson

      Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin Brobson, '95, talks about Right to Know law and privacy rights.

      The goal of the Right to Know Law is to hold government agencies accountable. Commonwealth Court Judge P. Kevin Brobson, a 1995 graduate of Commonwealth Law, stressed this idea in his first lecture as the Jurist in Residence at Widener Law Commonwealth.

      The lecture, "A Reasonable Expectation of Transparency—Where the Rights to Know and to Privacy Intersect," focused on the role of Pennsylvania's Right to Know Law and the sometimes competing interests of privacy and access to public information.

      "There is a general lack of confidence in government," Judge Brobson said. "As confidence in government goes down, the demand and desire for transparency in government goes up. People want to know everything now."

      In Pennsylvania, the current Right to Know Law was signed into law and the Office of Open Records was created in 2008.

      Judge Brobson discussed the origins of the various types of privacy interests recognized in the law, spanning a period of over 100 years. He then discussed how those rights are sometimes implicated in requests for information under the Right to Know Law, with specific reference to major cases interpreting the law. He also addressed what he perceived to be a major factor motivating requests under the law.

      "Transparency for transparency's sake is just an endless road," Judge Brobson said. "The goal of the Right to Know Law is not transparency – the goal of the Right to Know Law is accountability. Transparency is a tool to reach that goal. We must balance the duty to hold government accountable against the privacy rights of our citizens."

      Judge Brobson will serve as the Jurist in Residence for two years. As part of his appointment, he will present public lectures, teach classes, and discuss current judicial issues.


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