Writer sues Hurricane, city officials over FOIA requests

By Kyla Asbury | Jun 2, 2010

WINFIELD -- After not being able to obtain information, a Putnam County freelance legal researcher and writer is suing the City of Hurricane, Mayor Scott Edwards and the city manager under the Freedom of Information Act.

On March 12, Jay Lawrence Smith requested to be provided with information under FOIA, according to a complaint filed May 7 in Putnam Circuit Court.

Smith claims he made the request to Edwards and City Manager Ben Newhouse regarding the City of Hurricane's municipal court citation No. 4944 issued to Matthew A. Wagner on March 21, 2009; the duty roster of the Hurricane Police Department from March 11 to March 13, 2010; all policies and procedures regarding the requirement of any person wishing to see municipal court records to first file a FOIA request with the city; and correspondence from the city in response to a FOIA request by Smith on Jan. 1, 2009.

Newhouse denied Smith's FOIA requests, according to the suit, and said in a letter that complying with FOIA requests would require 5.5 hours of research and would not be made available until Smith paid a deposit of $200 and that the photocopy records would cost 25 cents per page for the first 10 pages.

The information Smith requested falls within the definition of a public record, according to the suit.

Smith is seeking for the court to declare the defendants' refusal to disclose the records unlawful and grant injunctive relief and enjoin the defendants from withholding records without justification and ordering production to Smith of records withheld. He is representing himself.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge O.C. Spaulding.

Smith previous has sued the Cabell County EMS and the Cabell County Commission for refusing to release records under FOIA.

Putnam Circuit Court case number: 10-C-166

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