- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 2, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A judge soon will decide whether a housing agency’s leader failed to comply with an open-records law over claims he didn’t provide documents requested by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Court filings show Judge Alice Lightle is expected to make a ruling Thursday after both sides filed briefs of their arguments Monday in Little Rock District Court, the newspaper (https://bit.ly/1GiGlmK ) reported.

Executive director Rodney Forte of the Metropolitan Housing Alliance has pleaded not guilty to a charge that he didn’t comply with the Freedom of Information Act.

Prosecutors contend that Forte “did not act reasonably” in responding to public information requests filed by the newspaper in August, September and October.

Forte’s attorneys argued that he and other employees attempted to cooperate with the newspaper, and that the state didn’t prove that Forte acted negligently.

A large portion of the trial focused on reporter Chelsea Boozer’s last and largest information request, which was for all of the agency’s work orders from January 2012 through Oct. 20, 2014, as well as any complaints filed with the agency during that time.

Deputy prosecutor Leigh Patterson said the agency didn’t follow state law in responding to the request in three working days.

It also sent a cost estimate to the newspaper for more than $16,000 for hiring temporary workers and buying extra supplies to comply with the request. That estimate was “vague” and the agency “negligently arrived at that amount,” Patterson said.

Forte testified an employee who he directed to answer the newspaper’s requests had developed the cost estimate. He said they discussed the logic behind it and that he “found it sound.”

“There’s nothing negligent here,” said Forte’s attorney, N.M. “Mac” Norton. “This is not a conspiracy.”


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

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide