4/4/2017 update, in the SJ here:
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A state agency has dropped its lawsuit against a weekly Oregon newspaper that sought public records about a man charged in the kidnapping and killing of his ex-wife.
… After Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum ordered the review board to release the records, the board responded by suing the newspaper. The suit was dropped Tuesday after Gov. Kate Brown intervened.
Presumably someone will soon file a request for the public records showing HLGR’s billable hours – rumor has it the rate was $400 per – for this abortive lawsuit against the Malheur Enterprise for having the temerity to get an order from the Oregon DOJ for the release of public records.
3/29/2017: Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board hires Harrang et al to sue newspaper
This should be amusing. Oregon’s PSRB – a state agency – is using public funds to pay the Harrang, Long, Gary & Rudnick law firm to sue the Malheur Enterprise, a newspaper.
This is the same Eugene law firm that, in the midst of defending Eugene’s 4-J School Board from a public records lawsuit brought by the Register Guard newspaper, mistakenly emailed the RG reporter a zip file with all the documents the school board had been trying to hide from the public. Whoops.
I have to wonder if the PSRB – which doesn’t have a lot of money in their budget to pay lawyers to sue newspapers – did their due diligence on this hiring decision.
The Malheur Enterprise has the story here:
The state Psychiatric Security Review Board is defying a state order that it release public records to the Malheur Enterprise and intends to sue the weekly newspaper to keep the records secret.
Such a suit would be only the third time in the past 30 years a state agency has gone to court to keep its records secret.
The state board wants to keep confidential certain records it used in deciding last December to discharge from state custody Anthony W. Montwheeler, 49. Three weeks after that decision, police say Montwheeler kidnapped and killed his ex-wife and then killed a Vale man and injured his wife in a collision as he was eluding police.
… Rosenblum’s office subsequently said that the newspaper was entitled to the documents it requested. The public records order issued March 15 and supplemented a week later said there would be some redactions.
In the order, Deputy Attorney General Fred Boss concluded the law didn’t prohibit release of the records. He also rejected the Security Review Board’s claim that secrecy was needed to protect Montwheeler’s privacy. He said the Enterprise “has shown by clear and convincing evidence that the public interest requires disclosure.”…
… Rather than comply, the Security Review Board retained at public expense the private law firm of Harrang Long, which on March 22 notified the Enterprise to expect to be sued to block access to the state’s records. The Security Review Board last week couldn’t produce a contract or any other record showing the cost of hiring the outside lawyers.
Perhaps Harrang Long will put partner Andrea Coit on the case for $290 an hour, and she’ll uncover another Masonic blood oath conspiracy? Although $290 is cheap for HLGR’s work east of the Cascades – when former UO Pres Dave Frohnmayer was working for them back in 2011, he billed Deschutes County $550 an hour for this losing case.