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Johnson asserts that the trial court erred in ruling that the public’s fundamental right of access to public records does not include the right to obtain electronic copies of those records due to the risk of alteration. We agree.
This court finds that the reproduction method which Johnson seeks to use, i.e., having the custodian reproduce the records on CD, DVD, or flash drive, is safe and reasonable.
Moreover, Johnson has offered to pay for this method of reproducing the records at his own expense.
This court recognizes that we are dealing with a developing area of law and we are quick to emphasize that this opinion does not stand for the proposition that every member of the public should always be allowed to reproduce the public records in any way he chooses.
In this case, the custodian of the public records already had access to and sufficient understanding of the requested method of reproduction, which posed no risk to the integrity of the original records.
Given that this information technology is readily available and is easily used and understood, we find no reason why the public should not be allowed the convenience of having electronic copies provided to it at the legally allowed cost
For the above stated reasons, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and award Johnson attorney’s fees in the amount of $2,500.00, court costs, and penalties of $50.00 per day from October 3, 2007 to December 18, 2007, exclusive of Saturdays, Sunday, and public legal holidays, pursuant to La.R.S. 44:35.
It is further ordered that Pineville provide Johnson with electronic copies of the requested, segregated e-mails, in the manner previously requested.
Posted by wst... at 14:47