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Release of cell phone records would 'inhibit' policy discussions

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  1. Freedom of Information
Release of cell phone records would 'inhibit' policy discussions 03/23/98 NEVADA--In early March, a state district court judge in Las…

Release of cell phone records would ‘inhibit’ policy discussions

03/23/98

NEVADA–In early March, a state district court judge in Las Vegas ruled that billing records indicating the complete telephone numbers dialed from cellular phones issued to Clark County employees do not have to be released to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Disclosure of the last four digits of the numbers would inhibit the frank discussion of policy matters between governmental officials and the public, Judge Kathy Hardcastle held.

The court relied on the “common law limitation” to withhold the complete phone numbers. That exemption requires a balancing of the policy justifications for nondisclosure against the general policy in favor of open government.

The “deliberative process privilege,” which is based on the idea that public scrutiny would hamper the efficiency of government, tips the balance in favor of nondisclosure, the court said.

Don Campbell, lawyer for the Review-Journal, told the Associated Press that the decision was “clearly erroneous” because the county presented no evidence to support the allegation that disclosure “would wreak havoc on the deliberative process.”

Hardcastle denied the newspaper’s request to order release of the redacted portions of the cellular phone records. (DR Partners v. The Board of County Commissioners of Clark County, Nevada; Media Counsel: Donald Campbell, Las Vegas)