Bryant v. Mars was a case before the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1992 concerning the deliberative process exemption.
This case established that all working papers within the office of the attorney general, including those submitted by outside consultants, do in fact fall under the exemption found in Ark. Code. 25-10-105(b)(7).
- The Arkansas Western Gas Company was subject to a pending utility rate hearing before the Arkansas Public Service Commission.
- Mars, an attorney for the Gas Company submitted a discovery request to the attorney general for information regarding all data utilized by a consulting form, in order to produce a report for the commission concerning the pending hearing.
- The attorney general rejected the discovery request.
- In addition, Mars submitted FOIA requests to the consulting firm and the attorney generals office for all information related to the pending trial, excluding any working papers created by the attorney general himself.
- The attorney general release some information, but maintained all working papers created by himself, his staff or his consultants.
- Mars filed suit in order to obtain the requested documents.
- The trial court ruled in favor of Mars, ordering the documents released.
- The Attorney General appealed the decision.
Ruling of the court
The trial court ruled in favor of Mars, determining that the exemption only applied to the working papers of the Attorney General himself, and not his staff or consultants.
The Supreme Court overturned the decision of the trial court, deciding that it was too restrictive. Citing Scott v. Smith and Arkansas Hwy. & Transp. Dep't v. Hope Brick Works Inc. the court established that historically it has included the working papers of assistant attorney generals within the exemption. The court determined that this was based on prior litigation which had historically looked at the Attorney General not as one person, but as an office. Based on this determination, the court established that all working papers within the office of the attorney general, including those submitted by outside consultants, do in fat fall under the exemption found in Ark. Code. 25-10-105(b)(7).