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Federal courts have ruled Mugshots are not public information. Can this be applied retroactively to mugshots already published?

Los Angeles, CA |

A lot of lawyers have posted on here that mugshots are public information, but the 10th circuit court has ruled that they are in fact not public, and fall under exemption 7c of the FOIA.

Exemption 7(C)—Provides protection for personal information in law enforcement records (e.g. mugshots), the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

Can lawsuits be filed against mugshot websites for invasion of privacy? These websites all claim that they are legally allowed to publish under FOIA, which clearly contradicts case law.

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Attorney answers 1


A decision by the 10th circuit is not necessarily binding on the other circuits. The current state of the law in California, which is in the 9th circuit, is that mugshots are public information. Until the 9th circuit rules differently or the supreme court issues an opinion on it, all you have is a difference in opinion.
You might be able to file in the 10th circuit.
Consult an attorney who can evaluate your specific case.

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