23 June 2012
times-picayune sues nola mayor half moon landrieu for violating La. R.S. 44:1 et seq., the public records law
the times-picayune filed suit in civil district court (assigned to judge lloyd medley) friday, 22 june 2012, against mayor mitch landrieu's administration for refusing to make public the complete initial police report about an incident that occurred on 19 april 2012.
The suit cites the state's public-records law, which holds that "the initial report of the officer or the officers investigating a complaint ... shall be a public record." In addition, it says, courts "have consistently held" that the entire report must be public, including information about the victim [La. R.S. 44:3(4)(a)(b)(i)-(vii)]. The only exception is when the report identifies someone as the victim of sexual abuse, the suit says. ~ read more
while we've never considered filing suit, a violation of the public records law should be considered a very serious offense.
it's been shown -- at least once, by the 3rd circuit appeals court [heath vs city of alexandria .pdf 10/06/2010 CA-10-0280], that even if you win a public records request lawsuit -- you cannot force the governmental body or agency to pay a money judgement the trial court may have ordered them to pay as punishment.
this makes it next to impossible to find an attorney to take on such cases on a contingency fee basis or pro bono.
we believe that one way to cure this catch-22, is to amend the law in order to make the La. R.S. 44:1A.(3) public records custodian liable for and removed from office and jailed under a malfeasance in office charge if found to have violated the public records law;
especially if that violation involved deception by the custodian in withholding or editing out (redacting) any information that the requester is entitled to under the plain language of the statute, for example, like that what the times-picayune is suing over.
Posted by wst... at 10:17