Allsop v. Cheyenne Newspapers was a 2002 case before the Wyoming Supreme Court concerning the redaction of exempted information from requested documents.
- reaffirmed the use of redaction as an effective tool for insuring the release of non-exempt material despite its commingling with exempted material.
- reaffirmed that exempt categories of records ran counter to the intention of the law
- affirmed that the police investigation exemption should be narrowly construed to include only investigations leading to prosecution
- Laramie County Detention Center (LCDC) began seeing an increase in suicide attempts with two inmates successfully committing suicide in the spring of 1999
- The National Institute of Corrections sent Judith Cox to evaluate the LCDC's suicide protocol and make suggestions in improving suicide prevention.
- The Cheyenne Newspapers requested this report, known as the Cox report.
- Allsop, the laramie county sheriff, rejected the request claiming that the document was exempt because it was a police investigatory record.
Supporters of the FOIA request
- The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle's editor, D. Reed Eckhardt, expressed his satisfaction at the outcome of the case because it provided a foundational legal precedent for records release
Ruling of the court
The district court denied Allsop's request for dismissal because, while parts of the document certainly fell under the exemption, the court could redact those parts and still release the non exempted portion. Further, they ordered an in court review of the document to see if its release would be harmful or contrary to the public interest to release
The district court ruled in favor of the newspapers, redacting a portion of the document and ordering the release of the majority of it.
The court of appeals ruled in favor of the newspapers by affirming the district courts order. They began their ruling by citing Sheridan Newspapers v. City of Sheridan, stating that records denials must be made on a per record basis, and the existence of entire exempt record categories ran contrary to the intention of the legislation. This was affirmed by Houghton v. Franscell. They also determined that the Wyoming law that provided an exemption for law enforcement investigations should be narrowly construed to include only investigations leading to prosecution. They further determined that the release of the report would not be contrary to the public interest. Finally, they ruled, contrary to Allsop's argument, that redaction was an effective remedial tool for providing public records while still excluding exempted information, despite no Wyoming statute encouraging or permitting the redaction of exempt portions of records requests. This fact led [[judgepedia:Michael Golden|Justice Golden] to dissent from this opinion.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Ruling of the Court
- ↑ Wyoming statute 16-4-203
- ↑ RCFP, "Wyoming sheriff forced to release suicide report"