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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bill to increase likelihood of attorney fees reimbursement advances

The North Carolina House committee approved legislation that would reimburse legal fees for people or organizations that were "substantially" right in claiming a government agency wrongly kept data from the public, the AP reported. Currently, judges have discretion to award attorneys fees to people who win public records cases but often don't.
A state House committee cleared legislation Thursday that would improve the odds that people illegally denied requests for public documents could get their legal fees paid by the offending government agency.

A House judiciary committee unanimously approved the proposal that would curb the discretion of judges whether to award the legal fees in most cases. Although state law allows a judge to award attorney fees to people who successfully fight public records cases, they often choose not to reimburse the winner, leaving them with legal costs that could be thousands of dollars despite proving government officials were wrong.

The measure is seen as a compromise from a similar plan that passed the state Senate last summer but died in the House, said bill sponsor Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake.

More here.

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