By David Divelbiss
Do you remember the Open Records lawsuit filed against Mayor Doyle Arp by three plaintiffs?
In his ruling, Ninth Judicial District Chancellor Frank Williams ruled that the county government was entitled to charge resident Pat Hunter for the labor associated with producing copies of public records.
In a letter to Farragut resident Lamar Orr, the Office of Open Records Counsel (OORC) has inferred that Chancellor Williams’ ruling lacked any legal basis, and indicated that the OORC is inclined to disregard the ruling.
A link to the entire letter is found below. At the bottom of pages 6 and 7, Open Records Specialist Elisha D. Hodge says the following:
“The Office is also aware of a Chancery Court ruling from Loudon County that upheld a copying policy that charges for the labor associated with producing requested records…"
Ms. Hodge then shows her inclination to disregard that ruling in these words:
“…while respecting the Loudon County Chancellor’s ruling, this Office is compelled to rely upon the opinions issued by the higher courts of this State as well as the actually statutory language adopted by the General Assembly relative to what can be charged when producing copies.
In explaining this inclination, Ms. Hodge then writes the following:
Thus, it now appears that we have an opinion from the Office of Open Records Counsel that Chancellor Frank Williams’ opinion could have been (or could still be) overturned on appeal.It is important to note that this Office was unable to discern the basis upon which the Chancellor was relying in rendering his opinion due to the fact that he cited no case law or statutory authority when the ruling was made.