12. Settlement, pros and cons.

Settlement of records access cases in Alabama is often possible and desirable. Denial of access to public records is usually not a popular position for a public official to take in this traditionally populist state; therefore, public officials are sometimes willing to settle in order to avoid the publicity of further litigated controversy. The requester often benefits by a consensual resolution of the controversy because it is less expensive, and more certain, than trial. See, e.g., Moore v. Westover Water Authority, No. CV-96-000810 (Cir. Ct. of Shelby County, Ala.) (by agreement of the parties, the Water Authority's employment agreements were produced at the request of The Birmingham News, and a portion of the newspaper's attorneys' fees were paid); Birmingham News Co. v. Swift, CV 88-1390 G (Cir. Ct. of Montgomery Co., Ala., Sept. 7, 1988) (by stipulation of parties, State Director of Finance enjoined to preserve certain telephone records of State Legislature and to permit inspecting and copying of said records); Birmingham News Co. v. Birmingham Racing Commission, CV 87-501-622 MC (Cir. Ct. of Jefferson County, Ala., Equity Div., Aug. 28, 1987) (by stipulation of parties, resolution adopted giving access to certain financial records of Birmingham Racing Commission); Birmingham News Co. v. Deutcsh, CV 85-504-132 JDC (Cir. Ct. of Jefferson County, Ala., Equity Div., Aug. 19, 1986 (by consent of parties, access to arrest reports, with agreed-to deletions, ordered). If possible, settlement of a public records case should include agreement to a consent order by the court, as in the above-cited cases.