Ver­mont AG not ex­empted from pub­lic records law

Woonsocket Call - - Region/obituaries -

AVer­mont judge says that the state at­tor­ney gen­eral's of­fice does not have a blan­ket ex­emp­tion from the state pub­lic records law.

The Burling­ton Free Press re­ported Fri­day the judge ruled that the at­tor­ney gen­eral's of­fice must re­lease some cor­re­spon­dence.

The Wash­ing­ton, D.C.- based En­ergy and En­vi­ron­ment Le­gal In­sti­tute had re­quested emails and other cor­re­spon­dence show­ing how Ver­mont and other states in a cli­mate change coali­tion re­sponded to pub­lic records re­quests.

The group said Ver­mont was the only state to claim a blan­ket ex­emp­tion from hav­ing to re­lease such records.

Wash­ing­ton Su­pe­rior Court Judge Mary Miles Tea­chout wrote that the law "can­not be read to re­flect leg­isla­tive in­tent that all records in the At­tor­ney Gen­eral's Of­fice would be com­pletely ex­empt."

"While many records in the At­tor­ney Gen­eral's of­fice no doubt qual­ify for spe­cific ex­emp­tions due to na­ture of the le­gal work," Tea­chout wrote, "the pub­lic has a le­git­i­mate in­ter­est in trans­parency as to some of its un­der­tak­ings, par­tic­u­larly those of an ad­min­is­tra­tive or op­er­a­tional na­ture."

Chief As­sis­tant At­tor­ney Gen­eral Bill Grif­fin said he was sur­prised by the rul­ing.

The of­fice had ar­gued that be­cause it's a law of­fice, all of its work is gov­erned by pro­fes­sional ethics rules like at­tor­ney-client priv­i­lege.

Grif­fin said the of­fice is con­sid­er­ing op­tions such as fil­ing an ap­peal.

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