Last week, we announced the latest in a series of lawsuits aimed at requiring Missouri’s multi-jurisdictional drug task forces to obey state open records and public meetings laws. Our most recent case was filed against the MUSTANG Drug Task Force — which is headquartered in Cole County but also operates in Boone, Callaway, and Cooper Counties — for its ongoing, unlawful refusal to properly allow Show-Me Cannabis researchers access to open public records.
The task force understands that it is subject to Missouri’s Sunshine Law, but over the past year the task force has unlawfully redacted information from open public records, provided documents other than those we have requested, and, more recently, ceased responding altogether to our requests for open public records. Now, they’ll have to defend these actions in court and could face penalties for their violations.
Of course, MUSTANG is not alone in its disregard for Missouri’s Sunshine Law. Earlier this year we published a report entitled “Secret, Dangerous, and Unaccountable: Exploring Patterns of Misconduct in Missouri’s Drug Task Forces,” which detailed numerous examples of these drug task forces flouting state laws that demand their transparency and accountability to the public. We also have litigation pending against Saint Louis City’s Metro Multi-Jurisdictional Undercover Drug Program, the Kansas City Multi-Jurisdictional Task Force and theEast Central Missouri Drug Task Force, as well as the Missouri Narcotic Officers Association, for similar violations of the Sunshine Law.
Unfortunately, some of these defendants are trying to price us out of court. Legal challenges against government agencies are expensive, especially when defendants attempt to frivolously delay the cases to run up our legal fees in the hopes that we won’t be able to afford to match their taxpayer-funded lawyers. If this work is important to you, please make a tax-deductible contribution that will allow us to continue fighting back.
Source: Show-Me Cannabis