Judges Admit Dox are Public Records in Suit Against Newspaper

Attorneys representing the judges of the Fourth Judicial (Morehouse, Ouachita Parishes) District Court stipulated in court this morning that documents in possession of the court are indeed public records, as defined by Louisiana’s Public Records law, LA RS 44. However, Monroe Attorney Jon Guice, said that as the documents in question may involve sensitive personnel issues, they are not subject to disclosure.

At issue is whether 4th JD Court Clerk Allyson Campbell destroyed or otherwise mishandled public records, and whether there was a coverup to conceal the facts. When Ouachita Citizen Reporter Johnny Gunter filed a public records request for documents that might shed light on Campbell’s involvement , he was rebuffed.

One of Gunter’s specific requests was for:

Any sworn/notarized or unsworn document filed by Monroe attorney Cody Rials at the request of Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Wendell Manning concerning missing files or the destruction of court records by Ms. Campbell.

In March, Citizen Publisher Sam Hannah, Jr. filed a criminal complaint with 4th JD District Attorney Jerry Jones.

The court retaliated against Hannah by suing the newspaper, claiming a privacy exception.

See here the documents.

This morning’s arguments centered on whether Campbell is a public figure as defined by law, and to how much privacy she was entitled.

In fact, Campbell is a contributor to The (Monroe, LA) News Star, and writes a weekly gossip column for that newspaper.

The Citizen’s New Orleans Attorney, Scott Sternberg, argued that in cases of possible public malfeasance, privacy expectations of an employee should be subordinate to the public’s right to know how its government operates.

Presiding at the hearing was Retired New Iberia Judge Anne Simon.

4th JD Chief Judge Stephen Winters was in the courtroom, as the plaintiff of record against the Citizen.

Simon said she would rule shortly in the case.

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6 Responses to “Judges Admit Dox are Public Records in Suit Against Newspaper”

  1. Bob Sherunkel Says:

    Not too tough to sort out between the good guys and the bad guys in this case

  2. beeSting Says:

    well done great to have an outside judge and lawyer to fight the good old boys

  3. peyxhvxnsz@gmail.com Says:

    You are so awesome! I do not think I’ve truly read through a single thing like this before. So great to find another person with a few genuine thoughts on this subject. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This site is something that is required on the web, someone with some originality!

  4. Hurricane cleanup contractor threatened by attorney over requests for public records from Calcasieu drainage district | Louisiana Voice Says:

    […] the hell does Stutes think he is, the judges from the Fourth Judicial District in Monroe who filed SUIT against the Ouachita Citizen newspaper in West Monroe because the publication requested public […]

  5. Documents obtained by LouisianaVoice reveal that DOTD & FHWA acknowledged Mangham contractor was owed money | Louisiana Voice Says:

    […] in the 4th Judicial District (Ouachita and Morehouse parishes) filed SUIT against Ouachita Citizen Publisher Sam Hanna, Jr., two years ago in an effort to thwart efforts by […]

  6. CRAPP, BLAPP, or SLAPP—The desired result is the same: to intimidate, block all questions, criticisms & records requests | Louisiana Voice Says:

    […] In the 3rd Judicial District (Ouachita and Morehouse parishes), judges, of all people, filed a lawsuit against a newspaper, The Ouachita Citizen, for seeking public records, even while admitting the records being sought were indeed public documents. https://lincolnparishnewsonline.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/judges-admit-dox-are-public-records-in-suit… […]

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