2015.8: Let’s Play Servant and Master

Scott Greenfield wants the backstory? Here’s the backstory.

I asked the Collin County Sheriff’s Office for Sergeant (now Investigator) Christopher M. Meehan’s personnel file. Robert J. Davis, representing the Sheriff’s Office, requested an opinion from the Attorney General allowing the Sheriff’s Office to withhold the bulk of the cop’s personnel file for various reasons, ranging from the specious (“There is certainly no information contained in the personnel file of Investigator Meehan which is a a legitimate concern to the public…”) to the offensively stupid (the language quoted in 2015.6).


I haven’t yet written about the New York Police Department’s petulant response to criticism (as a Libertarian, I don’t want to discourage them in making only the arrests that they “have to”: you go, guys!), but that, Justin Keiter‘s petulant response to my naming him as the lawyer engaging in what an appellate dissent called “egregious misconduct,” and Davis’s response to my public-information request on behalf of the Collin County Sheriff’s Office are all of a piece: public servants behaving as though they are masters.

The master gets to criticize the servants. The master gets to know which servants are engaged in misconduct. The master gets to poke around in the servants’ business.

The servant who forgets this needs to be let go.

4 responses to “2015.8: Let’s Play Servant and Master”

  1. Mark,
    As you know, a lot of elected officials and government employees forget that they work for us. They forget that all that power they wield comes directly from us.

    We have a right to question anything and everything government employees do. We have a right to complain about anything government employees do. If they don’t like it- tough.

    Government employees forget that we, the people, have a Constitutional Right to petition the Government for redress of grievances. The first Amendment protects our right to complain, bitch and moan as much as we like.

    Not only do we have a right, as good citizens we have duty to watch, to scrutinize, and to complain about government employee’s misconduct.

    Robb Fickman

  2. In New York, we are very Orwellian about this. We confer very, very special protection to law enforcement personnel records in section 50-a of the “Civil Rights Law”:


    Especially galling to me, at least, is subdivision 4 which clearly establishes a two-tier legal profession, with private lawyers of course at the bottom, since government lawyers can get police personnel files any time they feel like it, so long as it is connected to their “official duties”.

    Apparently private lawyers do not have “official duties” or, if they do, their duties don’t matter.

    I hope you get every single record you are looking for. Whether you are authorized to further disclose anything you find would be a better place to have a fight over any disagreement, but if I were running things no lawyer would be precluded from getting information in the first instance.

    Of course I’m not running things.

  3. There seems to be an embedded image or something that won’t pop up on my computer, so my apologies if this is apparent, but was your attempt through some sort of FOIA/Public Records request?

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