NPRI takes CCSD open-records case to Nevada Supreme Court

  • Thursday, January 16, 2014

 

For Immediate Release

Contact Chantal Lovell

January 16, 2014

(702) 222-0642

NPRI takes CCSD open-records case to
Nevada Supreme Court

CARSON CITY, Nev. The Nevada Policy Research Institute today took its fight for transparency in the Clark County School District to the Nevada Supreme Court.

NPRI has just filed its opening brief in its appeal of the Eighth Judicial District Court’s September decision allowing a list of government-issued email addresses for teachers to remain private, notwithstanding the clear language of the Nevada Public Records Act (NPRA).

Nevada’s Supreme Court has a history of overturning District Court decisions that have errantly limited disclosure under Nevada’s Public Records Act. With the law on its side, NPRI believes its lawsuit will become the next example of the Supreme Court reversing a lower court’s decision that limited transparency.

Joseph Becker, director of NPRI’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation, released the following statement about the filing:

The District Court’s decision sets a dangerous precedent for transparency under the Nevada Public Records Act and needs to be reversed. Fortunately, Nevada’s Supreme Court has a history of reversing lower-court decisions that errantly limited transparency, and we urge the Court to do so in this case.

The state’s public-records law clearly makes government-issued email addresses for government employees available to the public. We believe that the lower court erred when it redefined NPRI’s request for government-provided email addresses for government employees as a “request for a communication device or method.” That ruling set a dangerous precedent that must be overturned. If not, government officials will be able to deny legitimate requests for public records based on their interpretation of how those records may be used.

The purpose of the NPRA is to ensure public records are broadly available, thereby furthering the necessity that government is accountable to the people. In a recent decision, the Supreme Court maintained the act should be “construed liberally” and we urge the court to maintain that precedent in this case.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and the Nevada Press Association have indicated that they think the Nevada Supreme Court will look favorably on NPRI's appeal.

Allen Lichtenstein, ACLU Nevada attorney, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the email addresses being sought by NPRI are “a public record” and he does not “know how the [Supreme] Court could view it otherwise.”

Lichtenstein went on to allude to the appeal’s likelihood for success.

“The Nevada Supreme Court has been quite clear that government records are public, with very limited exceptions,” he told the Review-Journal.

Becker reiterated the sweeping importance of the lawsuit to government transparency in Nevada.

The NPRA is about open government and is guided by the principle that government is to serve the public, not vice versa. If the District Court’s decision to dismiss this case is not overturned, government bureaucrats will be allowed to continue denying legitimate public-records requests based solely on their interpretation of how those records may be used.

Under the Nevada Rules of Appellate Procedure, the Clark County School District has 30 days from the time the brief is served to file its response to NPRI’s appeal. Once NPRI is served with that response, it has 30 days to reply.

Case documents:

The Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation is a public-interest law organization that litigates when necessary to protect the fundamental rights of individuals as set forth in the state and federal constitutions.

Learn more about the Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation and this case at http://npri.org/litigation/.

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The Nevada Policy Research Institute 7130 Placid St., Las Vegas, NV 89119
Phone: (702) 222-0642 Fax: (702) 227-0927 Web site: http://npri.org/litigation