Court Grants ‘Free Press,’ ‘Beacon Journal’ Partial Victory in Mug Shot Case

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By: E&P Staff

A federal judge in Detroit ruled Monday that the U.S. Marshals Service must release photos of accused criminals who appear in U.S. District Court in Detroit, the Detroit Free Press reported on its Web site Monday.

The Free Press and the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal sued the Marshals Service earlier this year when the enforcement agency stopped releasing the mug shots. In court papers, the Free Press reported, the agency said providing the photos was an invasion of the defendants’ privacy.

U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ordered the agency to release the photos, but she denied a request from the newspapers that the photos be processed by the Marshals Service in Detroit rather than from its headquarters in Washington, D.C. According to the story by Free Press staff writer David Ashenfelter, that means the Marshals Service can take as long as 20 days to process the requests under the Federal Freedom of Information Act.

Before the service stopped providing mug shots in Detroit, the photos were usually provided the same day they were requested, the Free Press said.

The Free Press in 1996 won a similar lawsuit that led to a federal court ruling that the Marshals Service in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee must honor requests for mug shots, the newspaper said.

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