ACLU Sues Cascade County Over FOIA Requests

Apr 12, 2017

The American Civil Liberties Union sued Cascade County Wednesday for allegedly failing to comply with several Freedom of Information Act requests.

ACLU of Montana’s Legal Director has had it with Cascade County:

"We tried to work with people, but after a year, enough’s enough," says Jim Taylor.

Taylor says his group sent Freedom of Information Act requests over a year ago to all of Montana’s law enforcement agencies. The group wants to publicly post information on policies regarding racial profiling and use of force, as well as files pertaining to use of police surveillance technology.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Montana
Credit The American Civil Liberties Union of Montana

The ACLU says some agencies immediately responded, others partially responded and requested more time to comply. But Jim Taylor says some – like Cascade County – never provided any information.

He says over 20 Montana cities or counties blew off ACLU of Montana’s FOIA request. In other words, Cascade County’s is only the first of what may be several more anticipated lawsuits.

"We’ve got a really long list," Taylor says. "We started alphabetically. They’re not necessarily the first alphabetically, but they’re the first major jurisdiction alphabetically. We didn’t want to be seen as picking on small jurisdictions that maybe have problems with resources. We wanted to find someone who simply refused to comply and get an order from the court about that and there’s a claim for attorney’s fees as well."
Cascade County Sheriff Bob Edwards did not respond to our interview request. We were told Interim Cascade County Attorney Carey Ann Haight was out of the office and could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.