Denial of witness protection expenditure record upheld

Galloway v. Office of Pennsylvania Attorney General
Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania
No. 812 C.D. 2012

February 12, 2013

The Commonwealth Court ruled that documents pertaining a law enforcement agency’s relocation of a witness through the witness protection program are exempt from disclosure under the Right to Know Law due to the potential threat to the witness’ life and safety.


Denard Galloway made a Right to Know Law request for records to the Office of the Attorney General seeking information related to money spent putting a witness at Galloway’s criminal trial in the witness protection program. As a result of that criminal trial, Galloway is serving a life term with no chance of parole in a high-security prison.

The Office of the Attorney General denied the request, citing a number of exemptions to the Right to Know Law.

Galloway appealed the denial to the Office’s appeals officer, who affirmed the decision of the Open Records Officer.

Galloway then appealed to the Commonwealth Court.

Commonwealth Court Decision

The Commonwealth Court determined that the most important exemption of those cited by the office was the one that exempts a record that would “endanger the life or physical safety of an individual.”

The court determined that any documents related to an individual in the witness protection program are exempt because “law enforcement agencies only relocate individuals who are endangered by their status as witnesses.”

As such, the court affirmed the Office’s denial of Galloway’s request.

February 12, 2013 – Commonwealth Court Opinion – No. 812 C.D. 2012