Whenever it issues a decision, the Vermont
Supreme Court encourages readers to catch and report mistakes before the ruling
goes into the law books. Now Secretary of State Jim Condos, who isn’t even an
attorney, has done just that.
bill that makes changes in the state’s public record laws is headed to Governor
Peter Shumlin. Vermont
ACLU director Allen Gilbert says the current public records law passed 35 years
ago it hasn’t had an effective enforcement mechanism.
House has passed a bill that updates Vermont’s public records law. The bill makes it easier for
people who are denied access to records to collect their attorneys’ fees if
they sue for the documents and win in court.
The bill, scheduled for debate on Tuesday,
contains a key provision sought by open-records advocates. Current law says
judges have the option of awarding attorneys’ fees to someone who is denied
access to records, goes to court and wins.
Shumlin says he may stop short of insisting on a change in state law that would
require judges to award attorney’s fees to people requesting public records
when government agencies turn them away and later are overruled by the courts.