- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas State Police agency has appealed a judge’s ruling that found it had been redacting too much information from traffic crash reports it released to the general public.

The attorney general’s office filed the appeal Friday in Pulaski County Circuit Court on behalf of the state police, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/1JuMfNm ). Judd Deere, a spokesman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said he couldn’t comment on the appeal because it’s an ongoing matter.

In January, state police stopped allowing the bulk inspection of crash reports after legislators passed a law requiring minors’ names and addresses to be redacted from road crash reports.

Little Rock attorney Daniel Wren sued for access to reports in May after the agency denied his Freedom of Information Act request for road crash reports. He and other lawyers said the new policy was preventing them from seeking potential clients.

The state police then said it was an administrative burden redacting minors’ information from every report, and in June, it instituted a policy of withholding nearly all personal information from the reports available to the public unless the person requesting them qualified for certain exceptions. The agency cited the federal Drivers Privacy Protect Act, which restricts the release of motor vehicle records by motor vehicle departments.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Morgan “Chip” Welch ruled June 23 that crash reports aren’t motor vehicle records and therefore aren’t protected by the Drivers Privacy Protection Act.

Welch initially put a temporary hold on his ruling to give state police time to appeal his decision, but lifted the stay earlier this month. State police began releasing personal information again on crash reports last week, and spokesman Bill Sadler said Monday the agency “at this time” wasn’t considering withholding personal information from the reports while the case is being appealed.

Wren’s attorney said he and his client weren’t surprised by the appeal and that they had expected it.

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


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