Published On: Mon, Jan 11th, 2016

You shouldn't foot the bill when THEY violated the law

Please support fixing the public records law to guarantee that people who stand up for their rights–our collective right to know–aren’t left footing the bill when they win.

An individual who has been unlawfully denied public information should not bear the cost of enforcing our law. It’s perverse to make a person pay the costs of litigation just to gain access to information that’s supposed to be public in the first place.

In a majority of states, if a court finds that you were unlawfully denied access, you recoup your legal fees as a matter of course. Mandatory fee-shifting provides an incentive for agencies to follow the law, and a consequence if they don’t. It’s what makes the law work.

Without that guarantee, defending the public’s right to know is too expensive a gamble. Ordinary residents don’t have the resources to take that risk, so recalcitrant agencies will still feel they can ignore the law.

Please urge Senate leadership to include a mandatory attorney fees provision in the public records reform bill. Enforcement should not be optional.