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PR 15-19 Save the Bay v. Department of Environmental Management – No Violation

The Department of Environmental Management ("DEM") did not violate the APRA when it withheld from disclosure a document prepared within a client/attorney relationship, and therefore, not deemed public pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-2(4)(A)(I)(a). Based upon case law from the Rhode Island and United States Supreme Courts, we must conclude that the document requested, which was created by DEM's legal counsel and sent to various DEM employees relative to their legal inquiries is exempt from public disclosure. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-2(4)(i)(E). See also R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-2(4)(i)(A)(I)(exempting "all records relating to a client/attorney relationship"). Even the Complainant's September 24, 2014 APRA complaint seems to acknowledge that "[t]he requested document [was] prepared with advice of counsel." With respect to the allegation that the DEM's APRA procedures were not on DEM's website, the Complainant presented no evidence to dispute the assertion the DEM's APRA procedures have been on its website since 2012.

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