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PR 16-47 Save the Bay v. Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management No Violation

Based upon the evidence presented, the subject document responsive to Save the Bay's APRA request was generated by the Chief of DEM's Office of Compliance and Inspection, in consultation with DEM attorneys (and on occasion with attorneys from the Department of Attorney General) to evaluate and strategize potential DEM legal action. "The general rule is that communications made by a client to his attorney for the purposes of seeking professional advice, as well as the responses by the attorney to such inquiries, are privileged communications not subject to disclosure." State v. Von Bulow, 475 A.2d 995, 1004 (R.I. 1984). Accordingly, we concluded the requested document was exempt from disclosure as a document "relating to a client/attorney relationship." R.I. Gen. Laws 38-2-2(4)(A)(I)(a). Moreover, because the document was created, at least in part, by DEM's legal counsel, no reasonably segregable portion is available for public inspection. See R.I. Gen. Laws 38-2-3(b). There was no violation.

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