Texas Supreme Court justice: Open government ‘difficult, serious’ business

Texas Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Boyd said Monday his judicial perspective on open government comes from years spent on both sides of the issue and that public access laws can be too easily abused from either end.

“The great challenge in this business is figuring out where to draw the line,” said Boyd, who has worked in the Texas Attorney General’s Office and as chief of staff for Gov. Rick Perry. In both offices, he said, he gained respect for the importance of government transparency. But he also spent years as an attorney in private practice representing clients who didn’t want their business information released by the government to competitors.

Boyd also is a former board member of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. He praised FOIFT’s volunteers as “true stalwarts” who help to ensure Texas’ open government laws are among the most citizen-friendly in the nation.

Speaking to attendees at the 2013 Open Government Conference, organized by the Attorney General’s Office, Boyd told the large crowd of mostly government employees that they do important work.

“This is a difficult, serious, crucial business that you all are engaged in,” he said. “Learn all you can and give it your all.”

The conference in Austin continues through Tuesday. Participants are learning about and receiving updates on the Texas Public Information Act and Texas Open Meetings Act.