Cases target secret meetings

Around the country, school board members and college administrators are being threatened with harsh punishments for illegally conducting business behind closed doors.


In what may be an unprecedented action, five former Las Cruces school board members are facing criminal charges for alleged open-meetings violations.

Ark. high court rules song was ‘true threat’

ARKANSAS — Basing its decision on an earlier Arkansas case, the state supreme court in January ruled that a Fayetteville High School student's rap lyrics constituted a "true threat" of physical violence, upholding a juvenile court's criminal conviction of the student.

Fayetteville student Blake Jones was charged with terroristic threatening, a felony, after his former friend Allison Arnold said she felt threatened by violent rap lyrics he had written and given her.

Blake's lyrics – styled after those of rapper Eminem – presented a true threat to Arnold, the court decided, because they were specifically written about and delivered to her.

‘Killian Nine’ student loses in appeals court

FLORIDA — A federal appellate court in March affirmed a district court's ruling that a student at Killian High School in suburban Miami did not have her constitutional rights violated when she was arrested and strip searched for distributing an underground pamphlet at the school.

The Miami-Dade County School District had Liliana Cuesta and eight other Killian students arrested in February 1998 for publishing threatening comments in their underground publication titled First Amendment. The 20-page anonymous pamphlet included a drawing of principal Timothy Dawson with a dart through his head and a column that mused about the consequences of shooting him.

Cuesta was strip searched in accordance with Dade County corrections intake policy.

Cornell loses appeal in open-records case


-- A state supreme court judge in January denied an appeal by Cornell University in a freedom of information case started when a radio show host sought access to information about the university's planned agriculture and technology park in the nearby city of Geneva.


In 2000, Jeremy Alderson, then-host of National Public Radio program "The Nobody Show," said the project would have an adverse effect on area wildlife and crops, and sued Cornell when it refused to release documents about the site.


The park is to be used for biotech research of genetically engineered crops.


The state court decision followed an earlier ruling that since Cornell's agricultural school is affiliated with the State University of New York system, the university is obligated to release its records under the state open-records law.