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Mills + Woods Law submitted public records requests to Lake Havasu City in July 2023. Lake Havasu City failed to respond to the requests. On January 25, 2024, Mills + Woods Law filed a lawsuit under A.R.S § 39-121, et seq.

After briefing and evidentiary hearings, the matter was submitted on briefs for decision.

The Court Held:

If a City cannot promptly respond to a request as required by law, that work needs to be reassigned or more employees hired. The burden is on the City to promptly respond to a records request. The burden is not on the requestor to sit and wait patiently as the City eventually gets around to it as it prioritizes its existing employees’ workload. While this may seem harsh, the legislature has imposed a burden on the various public bodies to act promptly, or without delay, and the City cannot escape its obligations. See, Phoenix New Times, 217 Ariz. at 538.

The Court further held:

As to the City’s counsel holiday and trial schedule following the conclusion on the internal investigation, which allegedly delayed production for another 36-37 days, that may have been a reasonable delay if considered in isolation. But considering the prior period of 69 (or more) days of failing to comply with the Request, and the fact that it appears that the City Attorney was available to work on the request (per the City’s counsel’s email of January 7 15, 2024) during this period, the Court cannot find City acted promptly. The City cannot escape its obligation to promptly produce records by hiring over busy counsel.

The Court Ruled:

IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff David Adams has substantially prevailed in this
matter and is, in the exercise of this Court’s discretion, entitled to an award of reasonable
attorney fees and costs incurred.

IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff David Adams shall, through counsel, file an
application and affidavit in support of his reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred in this
matter on or before May 15, 2024, together with lodging a proposed form of judgment.

IT IS ORDERED that Defendant Lake Havasu City shall file a response to the
application and affidavit, and an objection to the proposed form of judgment, on or before
May 30, 2024.

Later, the Court awarded David Adams $5,571.37 in attorneys’ fees and costs.

Mills + Woods Law is satisfied that the Court System sided with Mr. Adams in his pursuit for transparency. Public Records should not be hidden nor unjustly delayed in their production.