Description: Action to compel the Vermont attorney general to respond to request for correspondence including the terms “climate denial” and “climate denier.”
Energy & Environment Legal Institute v. Attorney General of Vermont
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 02/16/2018 Motion Download Motion filed by plaintiffs for costs and fees for substantially prevailing in open records case. 11/29/2017 Reply Download Reply filed by plaintiffs in support of motion to compel. 10/18/2017 Order Download Order issued regarding deposition of former Vermont attorney general. Vermont Court Said Former Attorney General Could Be Deposed on Use of Private Email Account. In a case brought under Vermont’s Public Records Law by Energy & Environment Legal Institute seeking communications of the Vermont attorney general regarding potential climate change-related investigations, a Vermont state court ruled that former Attorney General William Sorrell could be deposed on the extent to which he had documents and correspondence on a private email account that related to the plaintiff’s records request. The court said the plaintiff had presented an exhibit that showed Sorrell conducted public business on a private account to at least some extent. The court said paper work kept “in a desk drawer at home rather than at the government office” would not be exempt from public access, “no matter whether that happened unintentionally, negligently, or deliberately”—and indicated that the electronic format of documents would not alter the treatment of documents. 04/24/2017 Reply Download Reply filed by defendant in further support of motion for summary judgment. 04/10/2017 Opposition Download Opposition filed by plaintiffs to defendants' motion for summary judgment. 09/16/2016 Decision Download Decision issued imposing timeframe for completion of open records review. Vermont Court Set Deadline for Attorney General to Produce Climate Investigation Records to E&E Legal and Free Market Environmental Law Clinic. A Vermont Superior Court denied a motion by the Attorney General of Vermont to dismiss an action seeking to compel disclosure of documents under the Vermont Public Records Act. Energy & Environmental Legal Institute and Free Market Environmental Law Clinic had requested emails that included the terms “climate denial” or “climate denier” or the names or email addresses of certain lawyers at environmental nongovernmental organizations or the names or email addresses of the New York State Attorney General (NYAG) or the chief of the NYAG’s Environmental Protection Bureau. The court rejected the attorney general’s defense that the plaintiffs had failed to exhaust administrative remedies, but said that the attorney general had shown that “exceptional circumstances” existed given the breadth of the request and the need for individual review of documents and redaction of privileged material. The court ordered the attorney general to complete its review by October 3, 2016. 06/13/2016 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Groups Sought Vermont Attorney General Emails About Climate Denial. Energy & Environmental Legal Institute and Free Market Environmental Law Clinic filed a lawsuit in Vermont Superior Court against the Vermont attorney general under the State’s Public Records Law. The organizations asked the court to require the attorney general’s office to respond to a public records request submitted in May 2016. The organizations asked for emails of the Vermont attorney general and an assistant attorney general that included the terms “climate denial” or “climate denier” or the names or email addresses of certain lawyers at environmental nongovernmental organizations or the names or email addresses of the New York State Attorney General (NYAG) or the chief of the NYAG’s Environmental Protection Bureau.