Scott v. Smith was a case before the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1987 concerning the deliberative process exemption.
This case affirmed the decision in, Laman v. McCord, namely, that there is no attorney-client privilege exemption within the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. This case also held that the deliberative process exemption for the Attorney General did not extend to all lawyers representing state agencies.
- Griffin Smith submitted a records request to Ray Scott in his capacity as director of Arkansas Department of Human Services for a number of documents.
- The Department released most of the documents but withheld documents of the agencies legal counsel and documents which had been submitted to the Office of the Attorney General.
- Smith filed suit and the trial court ruled in his favor ordering the documents released.
- The Department appealed the decision.
Ruling of the court
The trial court ruled in favor of Smith and ordered that the documents generated by the Departments' general counsel are subject to the state FOIA law and should be released. However, the documents produced by the assistant attorney general are exempt.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court. Citing Laman v. McCord, the trial court established that the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act does not contain an exemption for the attorney-client privilege. The attorney-client privilege, the court held, is an aspect of trials and the rules of discovery and has no sway within FOIA. Based on this determination, the court affirmed the decision of the trial court and ordered the release of the documents.