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Another new opinion from Division One, West Valley View v. Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, blasts the Marcopa County Sheriff’s Office. In short, Sherriff Joe decided he did not like the coverage by the West Valley View, a local newspaper, so he eliminated the West Valley View from the electronic distribution list for press releases and refused to respond to public records requests or provide copies of the press releases.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s holding that the Arizona Public Records statute requires the Sheriff’s Office to provide hard copies of the press releases to the West Valley View the same day they are released to the other entities.

More interesting, however, is the Court of Appeals’ reversal of the trial court’s denial of West Valley View’s request for attorney’s fees. You gotta read it for the full flavor, but here’s the bottom line:

The record fully supports the superior court’s observation that the refusal of the Sheriff’s Office to reinstate the newspaper to its list of e-mail news release recipients was “petty.” More than that, the decision by the Sheriff’s Office to remove the newspaper from its e-mail list because it did not care for the coverage the newspaper provided was without a doubt arbitrary and capricious.

The Court of Appeals, therefore, awarded attorneys’ fees against the Sheriff’s Office.

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