Open Government Issues The ACLU of Rhode Island is Involved With - Court Cases, Legislation, News Releases


Protecting Civil Liberties in Rhode Island for Over 50 Years


Open Government

The ACLU of Rhode Island works daily to improve citizens' access to public records and meetings through litigation, public education and advocacy.

Why is open government important?

  • Openness in government is a linchpin of democracy, ensuring that the voters have the information they need to choose their leaders and then evaluate their performance in office.
  • Public access to information is an essential tool in the fight against corruption in government.
  • Public access to information can save taxpayer dollars and expose poor government practices.

The public has the right to know what its government is doing. After all, isn't our government supposed to be "of the people, by the people, and for the people"?

Learn more about the RI Access to Public Records Act here.

Learn more about the RI Open Meetings Act here.

Open Government in the News

  • Mar, 20, 2020: ACLU and Common Cause Raise Concerns About Suspension of Open Government Laws
  • Mar, 05, 2020: ACLU Files Complaint Against Narragansett for Hiding Records of Police Misconduct
  • Feb, 19, 2020: ACLU Responds to Decision in 38 Studios Grand Jury Records Case

View All Open Government Related News Releases »

Open Government Related Court Cases

2019: RILS v. Providence School District
Category: Active Case    Civil Rights    Discrimination    Racial/Ethnic Discrimination    Open Government    Students' Rights    

About this Case:
This is an Access to Public Records Act (APRA) lawsuit seeking a court order to force the Providence School District to release Department of Justice documents about the district's violation of federal law related to the rights of English Language Learners.

Current Status:
Lawsuit filed in August 2019.

Lynette Labinger, Ellen Saideman

Supporting Documents
2018: Cox v. Goncalves
Category: Active Case    Open Government    Police Practices    

About This Case:
This is a lawsuit against the Pawtucket Police over the Department's refusal to release reports of alleged police officer misconduct generated by its Internal Affairs Division (IAD). The suit argues that the Department's refusal to release the records is a violation of the state’s Access to Public Records Act (APRA).

Information on another pending APRA lawsuit against the Pawtucket Police, Lyssikatos v. King (2017),  can be found here.

Current Status:
Lawsuit filed in November 2018.

ACLU Cooperating Attorney:
James D. Cullen

More information related to the Pawtucket Police Department:

Supporting Documents

View All Right to Open Government Court Cases »

Open Government Related Legislation

APRA Exemption for Public Employee Residency (H 7351, H 7411, S 2480) Held For Further Study
Category: 2020    Open Government    

A series of bills introduced this session in both chambers, H 7351H 7411, and S 2480, would exempt from open records requests the disclosure of the municipality of residency for a public employee or police officer. We opposed the legislation, noting that the public has a right to know whether their law enforcement personnel are from their immediate communities or not, and that such exemptions provide a false sense of security in a time when even more specific personal information can be found online.