(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that that the Court of Appeals, State of Arizona, Division One has reversed a ruling by the Maricopa County Superior Court that shielded from release Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon’s security detail logs (Judicial Watch, Inc. v City of Phoenix (No. CV 2010-015452)). Now the City of Phoenix must redact information it deems sensitive and release the records to Judicial Watch within a “reasonable timeframe.”
According to the appellate court ruling issued by the three-judge panel on December 22, 2011:
Judicial Watch, Inc. appeals the superior court’s denial of special action relief after the City of Phoenix refused to produce activity logs created by the Phoenix Police Department detail assigned to protect Phil Gordon, Mayor of Phoenix. The City cross-appeals the court’s ruling that the Mayor’s privacy interest in the worksheets did not overcome the presumption favoring inspection.
For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment to the extent it decides that on this record, the City failed to demonstrate that the Mayor’s privacy interest outweighs the public’s interest in inspecting the worksheets. We reverse the judgment, however, insofar as it concludes that the City is not required to redact security-related and confidential information and then produce the worksheets for inspection. We remand with instructions to enter a judgment requiring such redaction and inspection within a reasonable timeframe.
The City of Phoenix argued that redacting sensitive information from the records (deemed “worksheets” by the city) was not “necessary” because the resulting documents would be identical to the public annotated calendar previously released to the public. The City also argued that the process of redacting the information was not “feasible” because it would be “unduly burdensome” for city officials. After reviewing the security logs and the annotated calendar, the court concluded “that redaction of security-related and confidential information from the Worksheets would result in a document containing information that is different than any reflected in the Annotated Calendar.” The court also ruled that the City has “not met its burden” to demonstrate that the process of redaction would be “unduly burdensome.”
“This decision has a potential to increase government transparency for the entire state of Arizona. We’re pleased the appellate court has finally put an end to the run-around perpetrated by the City of Phoenix. From the beginning, this was nothing more than a simple open records request and there is no reason to conceal these records unless Mayor Gordon has something to hide,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “We look forward to receiving these records and to completing the public record regarding allegations Mayor Gordon has misused his taxpayer funded security detail.”