American Civil Liberties Union v. City of EugeneAnnotate this Case
In 2009, plaintiff American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, Inc. (ACLU), made a request under the Oregon Public Records law to inspect and copy certain documents of the Civilian Review Board of the City of Eugene pertaining to city police officers' use of a Taser against "Mr." Van Ornum. The request was ultimately denied, and the ACLU sued for release of the documents under ORS 192.420 (1). The City of Eugene cited, as grounds for its denial the records request, a conditional exemption in the statute. The Supreme Court reversed, finding that the exemption did not apply when “the public interest requires disclosure of the information. . . .[W]hen that exemption applies, a trial court must determine, as a matter of both law and fact, the nature and significance of two competing interests - the public’s interest in disclosure and the public body’s interest in confidentiality. Then, the court must balance those competing interests and determine, as a matter of law, which interest predominates." In this case, after considering the nature and significance of the competing interests, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded that the public interest in disclosure of the requested records predominates, and the trial court erred in declining to order their disclosure.