Earlier today, Judge Swinton released her verdict in our Open Records lawsuit against Mary Fallin. Although the we didn’t “win” the case, we didn’t necessarily “lose” it either.
Here’s what the judge said:
“The court finds the Deliberative Process Privilege is recognized under common law in Oklahoma, and is supported by Supreme Court rule as an exception to the Oklahoma Open Records Act,” District Judge Barbara Swinton ruled.
“The court finds the Deliberative Process Privilege thus may be used by the defendant to protect the content of the documents withheld.”
So, what does that mean? Honestly, it’s kind of a minor victory for us. Here are two hastily put together, off the cuff thoughts. Keep in mind, our ACLU attorneys haven’t reviewed or approved any of this:
1. The judge agreed with us that Mary Fallin doesn’t have the “executive privilege” to withhold the emails. That’s important
2. Deliberative Process Privilege is part of common law and comes with a catch. Judge Swinton ruled Mary Fallin has 20 days to produce a privilege log of the documents she wants to keep secret. In the log, only the content of the emails can be withheld. Basically, Fallin’s office has to put together the dates, sender, recipients of subject lines of all the secret emails. It’s a start.
So, did we get everything we wanted? No. Are we one step closer to transparency. Yes. Is there a good chance we’re going to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court? You bet. Grab the popcorn.
In the meantime, you can read the judge’s entire six page decision after the jump. Share your thoughts in the comments. I have to get back to writing bar trivia questions.