Ada County asks judge to toss out public records lawsuit

Ada County asks judge to toss out public records lawsuit

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BOISE — Ada County officials are asking a judge to dismiss a public records lawsuit brought by a group of journalists and the Idaho Press Club earlier this month.

The Idaho Press newspaper reports Ada County’s attorney filed documents on Wednesday asking a judge to throw out the lawsuit because the county says the Idaho Press Club doesn’t have the standing to sue, that the individual journalists should have each filed separate lawsuits and that the lawsuit takes aim at the wrong parties.

In the lawsuit, Idaho Statesman reporters Cynthia Sewell and Katy Moeller, Idaho Public Television reporter Melissa Davlin and Idaho Education News editor Jennifer Swindell contend county officials repeatedly violated the state’s Public Records Act by wrongly denying access to some documents, over-redacting others and otherwise mishandling public information requests.

In court documents filed Wednesday, Ada County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney James Dickinson says the county’s Board of Commissioners and the sheriff’s office followed the law when responding to the reporters’ requests and that they legally redacted some information to protect individuals’ rights.

Dickinson said the commissioners provided over 1,100 pages of records in response to three of the public record requests. He also cast doubt on the fourth request, which he said was an email asking for a 911 call transcript.

“The (Idaho Press Club’s) petition fails for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it jumbles together four discrete requests — assuming the (Ada County Sheriff’s Office) email inquiry amounts to a request — that should be litigated individually,” Dickinson wrote.

Idaho’s Public Records Act does not require public records requests to be made using a specific format.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for Oct. 2.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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