Sheriff must release jail contractor’s medical procedure manual
ARKANSAS–A state circuit court judge in Little Rock in mid-March ordered the Pulaski County sheriff to give the Arkansas Democrat- Gazette a medical procedure manual requested under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
The newspaper sought information about the death of a diabetic inmate, Marvin Glenn Johnson, who died in the jail in July 1995 after he was denied regular doses of insulin. An autopsy found that Johnson died from lack of insulin complicated by a heart condition.
The newspaper sued the sheriff’s office and the Correctional Medical Services, the jail’s medical provider, shortly after the sheriff refused to turn over CMS’s policy and procedures manual under an FOI request.
At an early March bench trial, editor David Bailey testified that the newspaper had a duty to inform the public about why Johnson died and the newspaper wanted to determine if the medical company had proper procedures in place and whether those procedures were followed.
The court rejected the county’s argument that the CMS manual was exempt from disclosure as a trade secret because it contained confidential information, the release of which could hurt CMS financially and give its competitors an unfair advantage. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette v. Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department; Media Counsel: John Tull, Little Rock)