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Arizona Agencies' Public Records Denial Condoned If In Best Interest Of Agencies.

The City of Tucson (Arizona) and it's police department (TPD) appealed a court ruling requiring active litigation document's production with awards for attorney's fees. The requestor appealed the order denying partial production. The production determination was affirmed but the award of attorney's fees was vacated for a lack of abuse of discretion by the court.

Attorney John Bolm requested all records concerning two TPD officers being sued by his client, Donnie Lopez. Some documents were provided but personnel evaluations and internal affairs records were claimed to be non-discoverable due to the pending litigation. Bolm motioned to compel the production. The court ordered partial disclosure and awarded attorney's fees against the City for arbitrary and capricious denial. The City appealed the production arguing that the absence of an in camera inspection precluded disclosure to criminal or civil litigants. Bolm appealed the nondisclosure because the City failed to show specific harm in production.

The Division Two Court of Appeals of Arizona held that under A.R.S.§ 39 123(A), a public agency may "deny or restrict access" in the "best interest of the public agency," but noted that there was no exception to disclosure because of pending litigation. Attorney fees were denied because there was no abuse of discretion by the court for ordering the production. See: Bolm v. Custodian of Records of the Tucson Police Department, 193 Ariz. 35, 969 P.2d 200, 283 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 13 (Ariz. App. 1998).

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Related legal case

Bolm v. Custodian of Records of the Tucson Police Department