- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas judge deferred ruling in an open-records case involving the University of Arkansas System, saying he needed more evidence and testimony before he makes his decision.

Wade Cash said he was wrongfully fired in 2012 from the Arkansas Water Resources Center, which is a part of the University of Arkansas System’s Division of Agriculture, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Monday (https://bit.ly/1DvUed7).

He made a public records request last January for emails from the center’s director and another employee. Cash’s attorney, Rick Woods, said his client is seeking to clear his name, noting Cash wants the records for “the ammunition to show he wasn’t fired for misconduct or other bad behavior, that’s his main concern.”

Scott Varady, an attorney for the University of Arkansas, told Washington County Circuit Judge Doug Martin that Cash’s request was too broad and that fulfilling it would have forced the center’s temporary shutdown.

He said the request would have involved between 12,000 and 16,000 emails over a five-year period beginning in 2008. The university gave Cash 2,521 emails that contained his first name from the two email accounts.

But Cash’s attorney argued that many of the emails were “one-liners” because everything on the page had been redacted. Arkansas law allows for redactions if the information is deemed exempt from public disclosure.

Varady said the college asked Cash to narrow his request, but he refused to do so. Varady said he told Cash the request could be fulfilled, but Cash would have to pay for a temporary employee to do the research.

The center has three full-time employees.

“Mr. Cash refused adamantly the charge for his request,” Varady said. “Mr. Cash doesn’t want to pay for it, but he does want to impose that burden on the institution.”

The judge wants a university official’s testimony about how much work retrieving the requested emails would entail and how much it would cost.

“I just feel like I have to have some sworn testimony to rely on,” he said.

He gave both sides 20 days to file briefs.

___

Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com


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