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Monday, August 30, 2010

NFOIC awards Knight FOI Fund litigation grant in New Mexico public records suit

from NFOIC.org:
A weekly newspaper in New Mexico has been awarded a litigation grant from the Knight FOI Fund to press a legal action against a state college for disregarding basic requirements of that state's "sunshine law."

The $11,000 grant to the Rio Grande Sun newspaper was announced by the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC), which administers the Fund that was created by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The grant was the first awarded for a New Mexico case since the Fund was established.

The award was made to defray the Rio Grande Sun's legal costs in a lawsuit brought against the Board of Regents and administration of Northern New Mexico College, a four-year, state-supported institution that has campuses in EspaƱola, NM, and El Rito, NM.

According to the complaint filed in Rio Arriba County District Court, the college has for more than six months ignored and rebuffed reporter Louis Mattei's requests for records, disregarding the New Mexico Inspection of Public Record Act's disclosure requirement and even its statutory response deadlines.

"The allegations in the complaint are outrageous. This kind of blatant disregard for public disclosure laws cannot be tolerated," said Kenneth F. Bunting, executive director of the NFOIC. "The Knight FOI Fund is there to make certain that, even in tough economic times, challenges of this sort get made, and that public officials who don't understand their obligation to be forthcoming about the public's business do not get to make up their rules."
Read more here.

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