LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal has ruled in favor of a woman who filed for the disclosure of public records from the City of Leesville but never received them.
Tiffany A. Baker appealed a trial court judgment rejecting her claim for penalties and attorney fees associated with a public records request to the Leesville Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board, and to the City of Leesville.
The court affirmed the trial court's judgment with respect to the board, but reversed the judgment with respect to the city, ruling in favor of Baker. She was awarded attorney fees and statutory penalties, totaling around $3,500.
According to the opinion, made public Wednesday, Baker faxed her request to the city on July 25, 2012. She followed up with a written request the next day.
The court also ruled that there be a civil penalty of $25 per day, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays and legal public holidays, to run from July 26, 2012 until the City of Leesville complies with the public records request.
"It (the city) took no action to comply or respond. Ninety-nine days later, when Ms. Baker filed her Nov. 2, 2012 mandamus action, the City still had not responded in any way. Twenty-seven days after the filing of the mandamus action, the rule to show cause hearing was held, at which time the City still had not responded. Its defense at the trial on the rule was that it assumed everything would be taken care of by the Board and that, in any event, if Ms. Baker wanted to inspect and copy the documents, she could come to the City's office and do so. In other words, the City simply ignored the law pertaining to a citizen's access to public records. We find the inaction on the part of the City to be unreasonable and arbitrary," the opinion states.
You can read the opinion in its entirety HERE.
The appeal panel was made up of judges Jimmie C. Peters, Elizabeth A. Pickett and J. David Painter. Their decisions were unanimous.