City of Billings v. Billings GazetteAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court awarding attorney's fees to two media organizations after they secured for public release the names of three Billings police officers who were disciplined for having sexual relations with a city clerk, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in making a statutory award of fees.
The Billings Gazette ran a story reporting that three City police officers had been suspended without pay for having sex on City property. Each of the three officers filed a separate motion for temporary restraining order (TRO) seeking protection of his identity. The district court issued the TROs. The media companies sought a declaration that the public's right to know clearly outweighed the alleged privacy interests the officers asserted and requested attorney's fees and costs pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. 2-3-221. The district court ordered release of the officers' identities and granted the media companies' request for fees and costs. The Supreme Court affirmed the award of attorney's fees, holding that the district court properly exercised its discretion in awarding fees and costs.