Herald-Standard (PA) awarded $120K in legal fees in open records case with state DOC

In a “first-of-its kind” enforcement proceeding, the Herald-Standard was awarded nearly $120,000 in legal fees stemming from an open records fight with the state Department of Corrections. “Requester here advocated the public interest in a matter of public health affecting a captive population,” wrote Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson. In March, Simpson found that the…


Kansas City, MO: Backlog of Sunshine Law requests reduced, but legal fees stir controversy

Even the divided Clay County Commission agreed: County Counselor Kevin Graham needed help reducing the backlog of Sunshine Law requests.

But the commission – and several office holders – are split on whether the county should continue employing a Kansas City attorney who charges $373.50 an hour.

Graham had been handling the requests on his own, he said, until the load multiplied.


NM: Doña Ana County loses $90K open records lawsuit

A state judge has ordered Doña Ana County government to pay more than $90,000 to an Alamogordo-based pet advocacy group for failing to hand over public records in a timely way.

Alamogordo nonprofit Animal Village NM sued the county in late 2015, alleging officials had not provided public records in response to a request made under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act, one of the state's key government-transparency laws. The lawsuit sought compliance with the state law.


Attorney fees proposal could hurt access to Florida public records, watchdogs say

State senators on Tuesday gave their first approval to legislation that open government advocates say threatens to roll back access to public records in Florida.

The bill (SB 80) would let judges decide whether or not to force government agencies to pay attorney fees when they illegally block access to records. Current law requires that agencies pay for the lawyers of members of the public who successfully sue them over records.


Court rules attorney fees not mandatory

Open-government advocates are disturbed by a public-records ruling handed down by the Ohio Supreme Court last week.

The justices voted 6-1 to uphold a ruling against a South Euclid woman who was denied recovery of attorney fees in a case where the city did not turn over records she had sought until she went to court.


What cost freedom — of information?

Here are several interesting items of note in the last couple days regarding costs associated with fulfilling public records requests—and the fighting thereof.

Granted, if not these then at least some agencies likely have used or will use costs—actual or estimated, reasonable or outlandish—as a way of deflecting criticism when requested records are not searched for adequately or are ultimately not located, and that is unacceptable.


Washington State paying record amount for records lawsuits

From NWCN.com:

In the state of Washington if a citizen requests a public record, it should be turned over unless there is a compelling reason not to do so. That's the law.  But investigators from KREM 2's Seattle affiliate, KING 5, have found more people than ever are accusing the state of breaking that law and it's costing taxpayers millions.