Sign up for the Open Government eNewsletter
We warmly welcome your thoughts on og-blog and especially welcome your emails with suggested postings and links to interesting stories and court cases. If you have something to say about open government in Washington State, sending it to og-blog is probably the best way to get it out. Don’t hesitate to contact us at

Friday, June 22, 2007

NC Town Must Pay Newspaper's Legal Fees in Records Dispute

"RALEIGH, N.C. — A Dare County judge has ordered the town of Kitty Hawk to pay a newspaper $75,000 to cover legal costs it incurred as it fought for access to government records. The Outer Banks Sentinel sued Kitty Hawk in 2004, after town officials refused to release billing records of the town’s contract attorney in 2003 and 2004. ... Superior Court Judge Richard Parker, in a decision filed June 19, blamed the town’s attorneys for using 'totally unwarranted' tactics in defending the case, adding expenses to the newspaper’s legal costs."

Sounds familiar.

By the way, the Legislature passed a bill in 2007 specifically declaring that agency legal invoices are subject to disclosure (with minor redactions). The law goes into effect on July 22, 2007. What do you want to bet that local governments in Washington continue to deny requests for their legal bills? Denying a public records request when the Legislature specifically passed a law declaring the record to be disclosable is perhaps the best possible example of "totally unwarranted" defense tactics. Prediction: In a few months, OG-Blog will be writing about a huge award of legal fees and penalties because a local government attempted to withhold legal invoices.