The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 1: General Provisions

Chapter 5: COMMON LAW; GENERAL RIGHTS

Sub-Chapter 3: Access To Public Records

1 V.S.A. § 319. Enforcement



§ 319. Enforcement

(a) Any person aggrieved by the denial of a request for public records under this subchapter may apply to the Civil Division of the Superior Court in the county in which the complainant resides, or has his or her personal place of business, or in which the public records are situated, or in the Civil Division of the Superior Court of Washington County, to enjoin the public agency from withholding agency records and to order the production of any agency records improperly withheld from the complainant. In such a case, the court shall determine the matter de novo, and may examine the contents of such agency records in camera to determine whether such records or any part thereof shall be withheld under any of the exemptions set forth in section 317 of this title, and the burden of proof shall be on the public agency to sustain its action.

(b) Except as to cases the court considers of greater importance, proceedings before the Civil Division of the Superior Court, as authorized by this section, and appeals there from, take precedence on the docket over all cases and shall be assigned for hearing and trial or for argument at the earliest practicable date and expedited in every way.

(c) If the public agency can show the court that exceptional circumstances exist and that the agency is exercising due diligence in responding to the request, the court may retain jurisdiction and allow the agency additional time to complete its review of the records.

(d)(1) Except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, the court shall assess against the public agency reasonable attorney's fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred in any case under this section in which the complainant has substantially prevailed.

(2) The court may, in its discretion, assess against a public agency reasonable attorney's fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred in a case under this section in which the complainant has substantially prevailed provided that the public agency, within the time allowed for service of an answer under Rule 12(a)(1) of the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure:

(A) concedes that a contested record or contested records are public; and

(B) provides the record or records to the complainant.

(3) The court may assess against the complainant reasonable attorney's fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred in any case under this section when the court finds that the complainant has violated Rule 11 of the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure. (Added 1975, No. 231 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2011, No. 59, § 5.)