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Court cuts price of a peek at public records.

Byline: Bill Bishop The Register-Guard

In its first-ever ruling on how public agencies must determine how much to charge watchdog groups for copies of public records, the Oregon Court of Appeals The Oregon Court of Appeals is the state intermediate appellate court in the U.S. state of Oregon. Except for death penalty cases, which are reserved to the Oregon Supreme Court, and tax court cases, it has jurisdiction to hear all civil and criminal appeals from circuit courts,  on Wednesday came out in favor of more access and lower costs.

The decision requires a lower court to reconsider a lawsuit filed by In Defense of Animals In Defense of Animals (IDA) is an animal welfare organisation based in San Rafael, California, USA. Its slogan is "working to protect the rights, welfare, and habitats of animals". , the Oregon nonprofit A corporation or an association that conducts business for the benefit of the general public without shareholders and without a profit motive.

Nonprofits are also called not-for-profit corporations. Nonprofit corporations are created according to state law.
 animal rights group that sued Oregon Health & Science University in 1998 to get records of care provided to animals in the Oregon Regional Primate primate, member of the mammalian order Primates, which includes humans, apes, monkeys, and prosimians, or lower primates. The group can be traced to the late Cretaceous period, where members were forest dwellers.  Research Center.

The ruling gives clear direction for other state agencies when they get requests for public records and for waivers of fees charged to collect and copy the records, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Eugene lawyer Dave Bahr, who argued the case for the animal rights group.

In a ruling written by Chief Judge David Brewer This article is about the businessman and Lord Mayor of London; for the American jurist, see David Josiah Brewer

Sir David Brewer CMG (born 1940) was Lord Mayor of London between 2005 and 2006.
, the appeals court embraced earlier court rulings that underpin Oregon's strong policy favoring the public's right to inspect public records. The court also incorporated legal standards from the federal Freedom of Information Act, which generally directs agencies to waive To intentionally or voluntarily relinquish a known right or engage in conduct warranting an inference that a right has been surrendered.

For example, an individual is said to waive the right to bring a tort action when he or she renounces the remedy provided by law for such
 or lower fees for public interest watchdog groups.

On the question of how agencies must determine what fees to charge, for example, the court adhered to a standard of "reasonableness" that is fairly well defined in law, Bahr said. However, the court did not specify what would be reasonable in the animal rights case, leaving that for a lower court to reconsider, he added.

Instead, the court said two fees proposed by OHSU OHSU Oregon Health & Science University (Portland, OR, USA)  to reproduce thousands of pages of records were unreasonable because they were not designed to produce the lowest possible cost.

OHSU initially put the cost at $12,585. OHSU later raised the fee to $151,000, after determining that veterinarians Veterinarians and veterinary surgeons (vets) are medical professionals who operate exclusively on animals. Well-known and notable veterinarians include:
  • Wayne Allard, a U.S.
 working for $86 per hour and clerks working for $39 per hour would have to go over the records to remove trade secrets and other confidential material before turning them over to the group, according to court records.

In declining to waive or to lower the fees for the animal rights group, OHSU did not consider the public's interest but only its own inconvenience and cost, the court ruled.

OHSU spokesman Jim Newman
For the engineer behind Jason (robot) and other submersables, see Jim Newman (engineer)[1]
''For the multi-arts advocate based in San Francisco, see Jim Newman (Dilexi Gallery, Other Minds)
Jim Newman
 defended the agency's proposed fees, noting that the requested information covered 6,000 animals over a period of several years. He said that the court upheld OHSU's decision to remove names of staff members and other private information involving drugs being tested and companies doing business with OHSU's primate research center.

Removing that information from thousands of pages is time consuming and expensive, he said.

Keeping it private ensures the safety of staff members and the privacy required for private companies to participate in research efforts.

"You really need to go over each page," he said.

"Animal activism nationwide has taken a very radical twist. The ruling recognizes our employees' safety is an important factor."

Bahr said the ruling directs state agencies to provide records in the most cost-conscious manner and to consider the public's interest in deciding to waive or lower fees. In cases where groups feel mistreated, the court ruled grievances can be appealed.

"This really gives state agencies some direction," Bahr said. "They've been essentially operating in a vacuum."
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Title Annotation:Courts; A ruling in an animal rights case sets clear standards for public agencies confronted with sometimes costly requests
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 21, 2005
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