State District Judge E. Wayne Phillips of Lewistown has ruled the city of Great Falls should not have refused to release drafts of documents to members of an environmental group last year.
The documents involved the city's relationship with the Southern Montana Electric Generation & Transmission Cooperative. SME and the city of Great Falls have proposed a coal-fired power plant east of the city.
At one point in his ruling, Phillips called a position taken by the city in the case "disingenuous." The ruling was dated June 12, but a mixup in the Clerk of Courts office prevented the parties from being notified until this week.
Anne Hedges, program director for the Helena-based Montana Environmental Information Center, said she expected a positive ruling and wondered "how the city could argue this case with a straight face."
"It's a wakeup call to the city of Great Falls," Hedges said Thursday.