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Pines Bach Attorneys Score Circuit Court Win on Electronic Records

Pines Bach partner Christa Westerberg, assisted by attorney Aaron Dumas, prevailed last week in an Open Records law case on behalf journalist and open government advocate Bill Lueders. Lueders had requested copies of emails from a state legislator and was offered over 1,500 pages of printed emails. He then requested electronic copies, was denied, and sued to obtain them.

Ruling in favor of Lueders, the Dane County Circuit Court said "a custodian who receives a request for an electronic record must produce a copy that is 'substantially as good' as the original. . . . If the requester indicates that his ability to access the record would be best served by a particular format of copy, the custodian should produce the copy in that format unless doing so would be so burdensome as to be inconsistent with the conduct of governmental business."

Speaking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Lueders said "I'm pleased that the court recognized that requesters are entitled to receive electronic records in the most useful form, especially when that is also the easiest way to provide them. The Legislature in this case needlessly printed out many hundreds of pages of emails, instead of downloading these records onto a thumb drive or disc as requested. I hope the state learns a lesson from this, and does a better job in the future."

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