Multnomah County DA must pay $16K for hiding public records

The Oregonian has the story here:

A judge has ordered the Multnomah County district attorney’s office to pay nearly $16,000 to cover legal fees stemming from a public records dispute last year.

Attorney Scott Upham sought records related to the district attorney’s investigation into charges of sexual assault against Portland tech entrepreneur Scott Kveton. Upham, a former Washington County district attorney, is now a pugnacious civil lawyer who has aggressively sought public records for documents related to his cases – sometimes raising the ire of prosecutors and other other government attorneys.

A Multnomah County grand jury declined in 2014 to indict Kveton, but Upham – acting on behalf of the woman who brought the accusations – sought the records as she pursued a civil case against Kveton. (The woman and Kveton ultimately resolved the case with an out-of-court agreement. The Oregonian/OregonLive is not naming the woman because she claims to be a victim of sexual assault.)

… Under a “catalyst theory” of the law, Upham said, the court concluded his client is entitled to attorney fees because of the role her lawsuit played in prompting the records’ release. He said that could prompt government offices to be more open initially in responding to public records requests, because they could be stuck with a legal bill – even if they voluntarily release the documents later.

“Hopefully this will persuade more agencies to not play these games anymore,” Upham said.

Deputy district attorney Jeff Howes said his office will not appeal the order but declined further comment.

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