Law firm backs Bialostosky for records appeal
Rory Bialostosky has "lawyered up" in his case against West Linn City Council President Teri Cummings, which has gained statewide attention for setting a new precedent on public records.
Nineteen-year-old Bialostosky initially represented himself in the lawsuit against Cummings, who was represented by the law firm of City Attorney Tim Ramis.
After a judge ruled in favor of Cummings in Clackamas County Court last month, allowing local elected officials in possession of records that were long considered public publics to not disclose them, Nathan Morales of Perkins Coie law firm offered his services to Bialostosky for the appeals process.
Morales is an appellate attorney with experience in both the Oregon Court of Appeals andOregon Supreme Court.
Bialostosky filed the lawsuit earlier this year after making two records request to see the notes Cummings took in her duties as a councilor.
Bialostosky never received the records he was looking for and sued the councilor to force her to disclose them.
Cummings has argued that she did not disclose her notes because the request was too broad. She said Bialostosky should have asked for notes from a specific time period or on a specific topic.
Bialostosky, though, wanted his right to inspect the notes to be established in court before he reduced the scope, he told the West Linn City Council in an email this spring.
Cummings has also said that her notes contain sensitive material that is not disclosable under public records law. Bialostosky said he would be willing to accept redactions of such material, again after a ruling in court.
The judge's ruling in this case has concerned journalists, public officials and public records advocates from across the state.
"I think that it is an unprecedented interpretation of the law, of an area of the law that has been pretty well settled, that everyone agrees that city councilors are a public body for the purpose of the public records law," said Oregon Public Records Advocate Ginger McCall. "It was a little bit confusing to hear the court say something different."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.