New York Times Company v. City of New York Fire Department

4 N.Y.3d 477, 796 N.Y.S.2d 302, 829 N.E.2d 266 (2005)

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New York Times Company v. City of New York Fire Department

New York Court of Appeals
4 N.Y.3d 477, 796 N.Y.S.2d 302, 829 N.E.2d 266 (2005)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

Following a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, the City of New York Fire Department (defendant) created or maintained three types of records: (1) calls made to the fire department’s 911 service line; (2) calls made between fire-department personnel on an internal communications system; and (3) “oral histories,” consisting of interviews with firefighters soon after the terrorist attack. Many people in the World Trade Center died on September 11, while some survived. Pursuant to state law, the New York Times Company and its reporter Jim Dwyer (collectively, the Times) (plaintiffs) requested copies of the fire department’s records related to September 11. The fire department mostly denied the request. The Times sued the fire department, and the trial court ordered many disclosures, including some portions of the 911 calls, but not all the oral histories. The appellate division affirmed in large part. The Times appealed. A few families had no objection to the disclosure of 911 calls in which the voices of their loved ones could be heard.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Smith, J.)

Dissent (Rosenblatt, J.)

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