Yesterday, Stephanie Townsend Allala sent out a news release advising that the Texas Supreme Court denied her petition to review her open records case. On August 1, 2014, the Texas Court of Appeals of the Third District rendered a judgment refusing to give Stephanie Townsend Allala the opportunity to determine whether the City had, in fact, recovered all of the records from former city officials that Townsend Allala had requested through an open records request.
On August 1, 2014, the Court of Appeals reversed the previous court’s December 2, 2013 denial of the city’s argument on “jurisdiction.” The City has continually argued that the open records law did not require the City to produce records that it did not have in its possession. The district court issued a ruling that allowed Stephanie Townsend Allala to “discover” whether all of the government officials had turned over all of the required documents. The City appealed the ruling that resulted in the August reversal by the Court of Appeals.
In response, Stephanie Townsend Allala, through her attorney, Bill Aleshire asked the Texas Supreme Court to review the Appeals Court’s decision.
Yesterday, the Texas Supreme Court refused to review the case.
According to Townsend Allala’s news brief, Bill Aleshire “expressed concern about the impact that the refusal of the state’s highest court to hear the case will have upon open government.” Aleshire is quoted in the news release as stating, “Open government advocates will be very worried about whether secret government will easily exist because TPIA (Texas Public Information Act) cannot be used to force a government body to collect public records from officials and employees who choose to keep those records concealed on their personal email accounts.”
For her part, Stephanie Townsend Allala, an elder law attorney, stated, “I am disappointed that the Texas Supreme Court will not review the decision of the Appellate Court.”
Townsend Allala added, “However, I am very proud to have been involved in this case and proud of the many local citizens who provided support.” Thanking her attorney, Bill Aleshire, Townsend Allala added that she “considered the open records and government transparency effort in El Paso to have been victorious in many ways.”
She added that she expects the “loop holes” to be closed in the near future.