Reason’s Intern Went to Court to Get Virginia to Release Body Cam Footage: New at Reason

Recent Reason intern Alec Ward squared off against cagey county prosecutors and Virginia’s notoriously stingy Freedom of Information Act in an effort to get body camera from the Chesterfield County Police Department. You can read about his fight for transparency here:

“You want to file a what, now?”

The deputy clerk looked up at me from behind her glass window in the county courthouse with an expression that showed both skepticism and confusion.

“A Petition for a Writ of Mandamus,” I said.

“I don’t think we can do those,” she said. “Hold on. Let me get a supervisor.”

Her confusion was understandable. The General District Court for Chesterfield County, Virginia, mostly handles cases involving traffic fines, evictions, and debt collection. They do not, I suspect, handle a lot of magazine interns trying to file pro se lawsuits against the local police department. And yet there I was.

The two hours it took me to convince the clerks that I was not crazy and that what I was trying to do was actually legal was my first indication that this might be more complicated than I had hoped.

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from Hit & Run

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