Local paper Isthmus is suing the Madison Police Department over a records request they say has yet to be filled more than a year after its initial filing.
The request, originally filed by reporter Gil Halsted on Dec. 7, 2016 to MPD Records Custodian Lt. John Radovan, was revised on Feb. 21.
Fewer than three weeks later, Halsted learned the request would be 729 pages and cost $182.25. Colleague Dylan Brogan paid the prepayment on March 22.
From that point on, according to Halsted, he and Brogan received periodic updates from Radovan regarding their requests. On Aug. 1, Halsted was told the request was complete and that there would be a 12-day waiting period.
According to Brogan’s affidavit, on Aug. 28, Brogan forwarded Radovan’s email signaling the completion of the request to Madison City Attorney Roger Allen who said he would “try to expedite this.”
The request has still yet to be completed or denied.
According to state statute, “[t]he denial of public access generally is contrary to the public interest, and only in an exceptional case may access be denied, establishing a presumption of complete public access to government records, consistent with the conduct of governmental business.”
Attorney General Brad Schimel has stated in the past that 10 working days is a reasonable time to fill a request for “easily identifiable records.” In his public records compliance guide, he writes, “requests for public records should be given high priority.”
Isthmus has petitioned for a writ of mandamus, a court order to a lower government official to properly fulfill their duties. Included in the awards are punitive damages, attorney fees and any other relief the court sees fit.