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Records Disclosure Ordered In Deputies' Misconduct And Remanded To Determine Attorney's Fees

Ray Burton, III, and East Coast Newspapers, Inc. (Burton), sought injunctive relief and declaratory judgment to obtain documents regarding a 2000 complaint, and the response to the complaint, against South Carolina's York County Sheriff's (YCS) deputies. The complaint alleged ethical and sexual misconduct and resulted in suspensions. The court ordered the bulk of the production and remanded to consider attorney's fees.

Lori Williams filed a complaint against the YCS in 2000 alleging various misconduct. She contacted Burton and he requested the crime reports and the deputies' employment records. The YCS provided minimal information claiming that all else was exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. This prompted Burton's action. The court held that production was warranted but that pictures of the deputies and the sexual misconduct statements were exempt as "personal and private" and denied attorney's fees. Both parties appealed.

The Court of Appeals of South Carolina affirmed the production ruling but held that the trial court addressed the attorney's fees request in a conclusory fashion and did not heed previous Supreme Court rulings regarding the matter. See: Burton v. York County Sheriff's Department. 358 S.C. 339, 594 S.E.2d 888 (2004).

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Related legal case

Burton v. York County Sheriff's Department