From Miami, a Critical Case on Federal Mug Shots

Theo Karantsalis, a soft-spoken librarian who teaches research classes at Miami Dade College between freelancing for Miami New Times and the Miami Herald, has become an unlikely central character in a hotly contested federal case that has free-speech advocates ready to clash with top D.C. officials.

In a case that has now made its way onto the U.S. Supreme Court’s radar, Karantsalis is challenging a decades-long insistence by the feds that mug shots are not public record. The nine justices are expected to meet in a couple weeks to decide whether to hear Karantsalis’s argument.

“I need this information to be able to tell stories,” Karantsalis says. “This case is just a matter of fairness and transparency.”

Karantsalis’s fight began three years ago in an MDC classroom. He had been stonewalled while trying to obtain a mug shot of Luis Giro, a local fraudster facing federal charges; his students persuaded him to fight for the photos….

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