Brenner Attorney Alleges Abuse, Slander, First Amendment Issues In IPRA Case

Attorney Blair Dunn, who is representing former Los Alamos resident Patrick Brenner in a suit against Los Alamos County Council and the County Custodian of Records is alleging behaviors ‘antithetical to Liberty’ in a response to a brief filed by Councilor Susan O’Leary in the case. Photo by Maire O’Neill/ladailypost.com

 

By MAIRE O’NEILL

Los Alamos Daily Post

maire@ladailypost.com

 

Patrick Brenner’s attorney, A. Blair Dunn, has responded to a brief filed Feb. 23 by Los Alamos County Councilor Susan O’Leary’s personal attorney, Kate Ferlic, First Judicial District Court in a case filed by Brenner against the Council and the County’s Designated Custodian of Records Barb Ricci under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA). The response makes serious allegations against O’Leary.

 

Judge Greg Shaffer gave permission for Ferlic to intervene on O’Leary’s behalf to submit an index of her personal emails from May 15, 2017 to allow the Court to determine whether they should be considered public record and subject to review under IPRA.

 

Dunn’s response states that what should be abundantly clear to the County and to the Court from the Vaughn Index that has been provided to the Court is that O’Leary is in possession of public records that relate to the public business. He refers to “correspondence from citizens that was sent to the County as official public correspondence and commentated on by a public official”. He also refers to “records regarding correspondence of a public official regarding the public business before the Council of a Rec Bond”, stating that they are public record “regardless of the fact that they were sent from a private email account”.

 

“What should also be not countenanced by this Court is the abusive and slanderous manner in which a County Councilor has attempted to conceal public records by attacking a citizen for requesting those records or speaking critically about his government. Such behaviors found in Councilor O’Leary’s briefing to this Court are antithetical to the Liberty protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” Dunn’s response states.

 

Dunn’s response says O’Leary’s efforts to “confuse the simple issue of what is public record” should be unpersuasive to the Court. He says the law on the matter is not complicated or “requiring of complex tests as O’Leary would have the Court believe”. He maintains the requested records are public and subject to disclosure under IPRA, that emails about public business are public and that O’Leary can’t make them private by declaring them so. He says she cites no authority to support her position that she may maintain a privacy interest in her communications as a public official about matters of public business.

 

In conclusion, Dunn says O’Leary is engaged in violating IPRA, obstructing Los Alamos County Council from fulfilling its statutory responsibility and “purposefully abusing the situation to harass Mr. Brenner in an attempt to interfere with his First Amendment rights”.

 

“The Court should request her immediate production of the documents to Mr. Brenner,” Dunn said.

 

A hearing on O’Leary’s motion has been scheduled 2 p.m., March 30.

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