Wyoming Supreme Court to decide on deliberative process exemption
February 19, 2010
Cheyenne, WY On February 18, the Wyoming Supreme Court heard arguments for a major case concerning the application of the deliberative process exemption within Wyoming law. The case, Wyoming Tribune Eagle v. Governor Dave Freudenthal centers on a records request submitted by the newspaper for documents relating to budget recommendations made by the Department of Family Services. The original request was denied, based on the argument that the budget recommendations were still within the deliberation process and needed to be exempted in order to maintain candid interchange between the governor and his department heads.
The state attorney general, Bruce Salzburg who is representing the governor claimed that the deliberative process exemption was recognized by a number of other states in an effort to produce frank and candid policy discussion within the executive office. On the other hand, Bruce Moats, the lawyer representing the newspaper, claims that Wyoming, in its 119 year history, has never recognized a deliberative process exemption and that the implementation of one now would seriously detriment the efforts of the public to gain access to public records. 
The original records request was submitted to the Office of the Governor and the department of Family Services in the spring of 2009 in order to obtain budget recommendations submitted by the department head to the Governor. When the request was denied, the newspaper filed suit in May, claiming that the Wyoming Sunshine Law did not include a deliberative process exemption. The department head was later dropped from the suit. 
On August 4, 2010 the Laramie County District Judge Edward L. Grant ruled in favor of the newspaper ordering the release of the records. However, the judge also noted that "... it is the opinion and decision of this court that Wyoming law should and the Supreme Court would recognize, in appropriate circumstances, the deliberative process privilege", but merely determined that budget recommendations should not apply. The governor appealed the decision, hoping to have the records sealed, and the newspaper challenged the existence of a deliberative process privilege. 
- Wyoming Tribune Eagle, "Supreme Court hears both sides in open records case"
- Gillette News Records, "Supreme Court hears open records case"
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