Bad news for Utah government transparency, folks, as the Salt Lake Tribune reports on the latest round in Dan Schroeder's protracted court quest to lift the veil of secrecy concerning the Envision Ogden scandal, pursuant to provisions of the Utah Government Records Access Management Act (GRAMA).
The judge ruled that most of the disputed records are exempt from GRAMA not due to any specific provision of GRAMA, but rather due to the constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Although the AG obtained Envision Ogden's bank records via a valid subpoena, which effectively said the seizure was reasonable for purposes of the investigation, the judge stated that making the records public, outside of the course of a criminal prosecution, would effectively make the seizure unreasonable. Furthermore, he ruled that this constitutional protection outweighs the admittedly valid public interest in learning more about what Envision Ogden did, and in learning more about the AG's investigation. Finally, the judge also ruled that some of the records are protected attorney work product, finding that those records contain evidence of attorneys' mental impressions, even though the State Records Committee found no such evidence and the AG basically described the records' content as factual. The judge did order the release of one two-page document, but from the sound of it, that document is merely the bank's cover sheet certifying that it was complying with the subpoena.As to the possibility of the taking this adverse decision up to Utah Court of Appeals, Dan adds this clarification: "I have no plans one way or the other regarding a possible appeal."
We'll take that to mean he's keeping his options open.
Needless to say, we'll be keeping a close eye on this story if and/or when it further develops.