BATON ROUGE — Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and the Indianapolis woman who is suing him for failing to fulfill her document request for more than six months have signed a document production agreement.
Instead of holding a scheduled hearing April 20, Scarlett Martin and Landry entered into a document production agreement, stating he has identified approximately 40,000 additional documents that will be given to Martin after they are individually reviewed.
Landry agreed to have every page individually examined and produced to Martin at a rate of a minimum of 5,000 pages per week beginning April 26, and then every Wednesday after that until “all documents responsive to the public records request has been produced,” according to the agreement.
Landry handed over 6,243 pages of documents to Martin on April 13.
On Sept. 30, 2016, Martin filed a public records request to Landry’s Office for information, including his contracts with law firms and his correspondence with gas and oil companies. She paid the required $250 copy fees, but then never received any of the requested documents.
On March 24, Martin filed a suit in 19th Judicial District Court Parish of East Baton Rouge, seeking the requested records, attorney fees, costs, damages and civil penalties.
Despite the document agreement, Chris Whittington, Martin’s attorney, told the Louisiana Record he and his client are seeking civil penalties and attorney fees.
“The law provides for civil penalties and attorney fees that are available when a public body fails to comply with the law surrounding the production of public records,” Whittington said.
Agencies in violation of public record laws can be subject to payment of $100 for each day a request is not fulfilled, according to state law.
“Since it has been over 200 days and the Attorney General’s Office has yet to fully satisfy their obligations to produce public records, it will be up to the court to determine the extent of those penalties and attorney fees,” Whittington said.
As of today, if the court ruled Landry was to pay $100 for each of the more 200 days has not fulfilled Martin’s request, Landry would have to pay more than $20,000 in civil penalties.
Some of Landry’s political allies have characterized Martin’s records request and suit as a political attack, even speculating that she was hired by the Democratic Governors Association.
“The allegation that Ms. Martin has been hired by the Democratic Governors Association is completely false,” Whittington said.
According to her lawsuit, Martin requested all correspondence between Landry, any member of his office, including Elizabeth Murrill, solicitor general and director of the administrative division at the state’s department of justice, and Chief Deputy Attorney General Bill Stiles, and other representatives “involved in the exploration for the production of hydrocarbons,” according to the suit. Also, she asked for any correspondence he had with Shane Guidry, CEO of Harvey Gulf International Marine, LLC, any representatives from Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, including Don Briggs, any representatives from Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, including Chris John, any representatives from the Louisiana Business Association, including Brian Landry.
Additionally, her request mentions correspondence the attorney general had with Chester Cedars, an attorney for Landry, and Kyle Ruckert, a former top aide to ex-Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter.