The Legal Intelligencer: Names, Labels and Stigma: How ‘Fixing’ the RTKL Could Easily Make Things Worse
In an article published in The Legal Intelligencer on July 13, 2021, Terry Mutchler, Chair of Obermayer’s Transparency and Public Data Practice, discusses Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) and “serial requests,” those requesters who repeatedly file requests, sometimes frivolous or to advance a vendetta, that do more harm than good, threatening to mar the strong open records law in Pennsylvania. The handiwork of these individuals sometimes has the effect of grinding an agency to a halt, or harassing public officials, and costing taxpayers.
Terry represents pharmaceutical companies, hedge funds, defense contractors, life sciences companies, and medical marijuana companies. A key portion of her practice is devoted to helping journalists obtaining public records in real time.
Terry uses open government laws to competitive advantage for corporations and media companies alike. She assists multinational corporations that do business with or are regulated by federal, state, and local government to both protect their information from competitors, but also to access records. She designs individualized work to help agencies and corporations comply with the complex field of transparency law.
Terry was the first woman to argue a legal case in Independence Hall. This argument occurred when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reopened it to hear legal arguments and also to television coverage, for the first time in 270 years. She is on the national board of the Freedom of Information Coalition, having been inducted into their National Heroes Hall of Fame. Terry was awarded the Common Cause 2016 Bob Edgar Public Service Achievement Award for outstanding contribution to transparency in government and integrity for her “force of imagination, initiative, and perseverance.”