Retired Supreme Court Justice Steven W. Taylor speaks on open government at Night of Sunshine dinner

Freedom of Information Oklahoma's second annual Night of Sunshine dinner April 7 will feature retired Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Steven W. Taylor, who will speak about the importance of ensuring openness in government and the availability of public records. FOI Oklahoma also will present its annual awards recognizing individuals and organizations that have shown a commitment to freedom of information and the First Amendment, as well as its Black Hole Award for the person, agency or other organization that impeded the free flow of information during 2016.

The Night of Sunshine, which is open to the public, will begin at 6 p.m. and will be held at The Venue at The District House, 1755 NW 16th St., in Oklahoma City. Tickets are $50 and will help cover the event’s cost and support FOI Oklahoma, which is celebrating 27 years of fighting for open records and open meetings. The tickets can be purchased at this Paypal link.

The Night of Sunshine is tied to the annual Sunshine Week, a nationwide celebration of access to public information, which this year runs from March 12 to 18. During Sunshine Week, news organizations and other groups in Oklahoma and elsewhere often publish stories and promote discussions about issues related to the Oklahoma Open Records Act and Open Meeting Act and the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

Justice Taylor served for more than 12 years on the Oklahoma Supreme Court and was chief justice from 2011 to 2013. Previously, he was district judge and associate district judge in Pittsburg County. During his 20 years as a trial judge, he presided over more than 500 jury trials, including the state trial related to the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. He retired from the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Dec. 31..

Read a more detailed biography of Justice Taylor.

Tickets: $50 per person to attend the dinner and support Freedom of Information Oklahoma Inc.

        • PAY PAL
        • Call Kay Bickham for reservations to be paid in advance by check: 405-341-3169.

Dress: We are calling for a business casual approach to this fun-filled night.

Location: The District House, 1755 NW 16th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73106 The District House is a renovated warehouse holding both a coffee house (with sandwiches, bagels and coffee and tea) and a separate meeting space/performance area where the Night of Sunshine dinner will be held.

Parking: * Angled parking on both sides of NW 16th Street to the east and west of the District House. * On the north side and to the west along NW 16th is the Lyric Theater Thelma Gaylord Academy office’s parking lot. The address is approximately 1815 NW 16th Street. * Parking is available in the neighborhoods surrounding the Plaza District, but pay attention to parking signs and respect the residential neighbors.

FOI Oklahoma Awards: We annually honor recipients with awards designed to highlight people who support -- or thwart -- the First Amendment and our state's Open Meeting and Open Records laws. On April 7, we will recognize deserving Oklahomans with the following awards.

        • Marian Opala First Amendment Award: Named for the late state Supreme Court Justice Marian Opala, this award recognizes individuals who have promoted education about or protection of the individual rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.
        • Ben Blackstock Award: Named for retired Oklahoma Press Association Executive Director Ben Blackstock, this award recognizes a non-governmental person or organization that has shown a commitment to freedom of information.
        • Sunshine Award: Recognizes a public official or governmental body that has shown a commitment to freedom of information.
        • Black Hole Award: Recognizes an individual, agency or organization that has most thwarted the free flow of information.