Judge rules that AG not exempt from public records law
By The Associated Press
Jul. 29, 2017
A Vermont judge says that the state attorney general's office does not have a blanket exemption from the state public records law.
The Burlington Free Press reported Friday (http://bfpne.ws/2eXEKwa ) the judge ruled that the attorney general's office must release some correspondence.
The Washington, D.C.-based Energy and Environment Legal Institute had requested emails and other correspondence showing how Vermont and other states in a climate change coalition responded to public records requests.
The group said Vermont was the only state to claim a blanket exemption from having to release such records.
Washington Superior Court Judge Mary Miles Teachout wrote that the law "cannot be read to reflect legislative intent that all records in the Attorney General's Office would be completely exempt."
"While many records in the Attorney General's office no doubt qualify for specific exemptions due to nature of the legal work," Teachout wrote, "the public has a legitimate interest in transparency as to some of its undertakings, particularly those of an administrative or operational nature."
Chief Assistant Attorney General Bill Griffin said he was surprised by the ruling.
The office had argued that because it's a law office, all of its work is governed by professional ethics rules like attorney-client privilege.
Griffin said the office is considering options such as filing an appeal.