OK-SAFE, Inc. – This is an update on the open records lawsuit filed against OK Gov. Fallin by The Lost Ogle and the ACLU. See our earlier post on this issue for background details.
Rather than ‘executive privilege’, “The court finds the deliberative process privilege thus may be used by the defendant to protect the content of documents withheld by the defendant.”
From the Tulsa World, 6/17/14:
Judge rules Gov. Fallin can withhold documents on her ACA-Medicaid decision, by Barbara Hoberock
OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Mary Fallin has the power to withhold documents from the public based on a “deliberative process” privilege, a judge ruled Tuesday.
“The court finds the deliberative process privilege is recognized under common law in Oklahoma, and it is supported by Supreme Court rule as an exception to the Oklahoma Open Records Act,” the opinion by Oklahoma County District Judge Barbara Swinton states. “The court finds the deliberative process privilege thus may be used by the defendant to protect the content of documents withheld by the defendant.”
The opinion notes the purpose of the privilege “is to ensure that subordinates within an agency will (be able) to provide the decision maker with their uninhibited opinions and recommendations without fear of later being subjected to public ridicule or criticism.” Rest here.
From News9, 6/17/14:
Oklahoma Judge Rules Governor Mary Fallin Can Withhold Documents
OKLAHOMA CITY –
An Oklahoma County judge has upheld Gov. Mary Fallin’s legal right to withhold documents requested by news organizations under Oklahoma’s Open Records Act.
District Judge Barbara Swinton handed down the ruling Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The lawsuit on behalf of the satirical news website The Lost Ogle was joined with several news organizations, including The Associated Press, in a request for documents related to Fallin’s decisions to reject a state health insurance exchange and to expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of low-income and uninsured Oklahomans. Rest here.
The Lost Ogle, 6/17/14, has a slightly different take on the judge’s decision:
The Judge Has Ruled in our Open Records Lawsuit… by Patrick
Earlier today, Judge Swinton released her verdict in our Open Records lawsuit against Mary Fallin. Although we didn’t “win” the case, we didn’t necessarily “lose” it either….
1. The judge agreed with us that Mary Fallin doesn’t have the “executive privilege” to withhold the emails. That’s important
2. Deliberative Process Privilege is part of common law and comes with a catch. Judge Swinton ruled Mary Fallin has 20 days to produce a privilege log of the documents she wants to keep secret. In the log, only the content of the emails can be withheld. Basically, Fallin’s office has to put together the dates, sender, recipients of subject lines of all the secret emails. It’s a start. Rest here.
The Lost Ogle goes on the say there is likely to be an appeal to the Supreme Court on this issue.