City of Minot violated open records law


North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says the City of Minot violated the open records law by denying a request for records from interviews of former City Manager Tom Barry and/or Mayor Shaun Sipma conducted during the personnel investigation for the city.

On Oct. 15, 2020, a Minot citizen requested notes, transcripts, audio or video recordings from the interviews conducted by the Center for Mediation and Consultation between March 1, 2020, and May 1, 2020.

Stenehjem says the city responded with a statement that there were no transcripts, audio or video
recordings of the interviews and that the interview notes were exempt under N.D.C.C. § 44-04-19.1 as attorney work product.

The fact that an attorney made the notes does not automatically mean the elements of attorney work product are met, he said in his conclusion.

Now, the city must review the notes, may redact any that have statutory protections and must release the remaining notes to the requester.

If the city doesn’t release the requested documents within seven days of Thursday, the citizen may take civil action and could win mandatory costs, disbursements and reasonable attorney fees.

To view Stenehjem’s full conclusion, click here.

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