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Judge Rules In Favor Of VSEA Public Records Lawsuit

January 10, 2011

From VSEA:

On Friday, Washington County Superior Court, Judge Geoffrey Crawford issued a ruling in favor of  the Vermont State Employees Association’s (VSEA) in its lawsuit against the State of Vermont for attempting to charge the union approximately $1300 to view public records.

In his ruling, Crawford summarizes: “…the legislature has recognized that compliance with the [Public Records] Act will place burdens on state and local government. Unless the statute is amended further, the burden of inspection is part of the cost of government to be borne by the polity at large and not imposed upon individuals or organizations seeking information.” He added that “the cost recovery procedures proposed by the State would hamper…openness, are not supported by the language or history of the [Public Records] Act, and would alter the Act significantly.”

VSEA Associate General Counsel Abigail Winters praised the judge’s ruling, saying “This decision affirms the fundamental right of all Vermonters to freely access and examine the actions of our government officials. This will prevent public officials from trying to use exorbitant inspection fees as a means of dissuading the public from examining their documents.”

 

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