A judge ruled that APD violated the state's public records law for seven months.
A state District Court judge has ordered the Albuquerque Police Department to pay $20,500 in fines and legal fees to a freelance journalist and his attorney for violating provisions of the state’s open records law.
Judge Nancy Franchini awarded the money on July 27 to journalist Charles Arasim and his attorney Thomas Grover. She found that APD failed for 124 days to provide Arasim a complete set of records he had requested under the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act.
Franchini fined the city $100 for each day it violated the IPRA law, which was $12,400, and awarded Grover $7,955 in attorney’s fees.
Arasim filed his records request with the Civilian Police Oversight Agency on Oct. 11, 2016. He was seeking records in three cases, some of them relating to APD Internal Affairs cases.
Four days later the CPOA forwarded the case to APD’s records custodian. On Oct, 28, 2016, APD notified Arasim that it needed additional time to process his request.
But Franchini’s order said that “at no time prior [to Arasim filing his lawsuit against the city and APD] did APD claim that Arasim’s request was excessively burdensome or broad.”
During the course of the next seven months APD provided Arasim with some, but not all of the records he had requested.
“A reasonable period of time for APD to produce the requested documents was 90 days, not seven months (Oct. 28, 2016 to May 30, 2017),” Franchini’s order said. “Therefore APD should have reasonably provided the documents to Arasim by January 26, 2017, which is 90 days after October 28, 2016.”
Grover has filed several lawsuits against the city and APD for allegedly violation the IPRA law. In December of 2016, a state court judge ordered APD to pay $12,500 to former officer Jeremy Dear for failing to provide records he had requested under the IPRA law.
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