Payday Lending Group Loses Lawsuit Over Record Release

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Henry Chalmers and Megan Mitchell’s client, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), in a groundbreaking Georgia Open Records Act case. CfA is a Washington D.C.-based public interest group that is fighting the payday loan industry. CfA filed an Open Records Act request with the State of Georgia, seeking emails between the industry and a Kennesaw State University professor it had hired to perform research into the effects of payday loans on consumers. The industry fought the request and advocated an interpretation of Georgia’s Open Records Act that would have made it much more difficult for the government to honor Open Records Act requests. The trial court ruled in favor of CfA, but the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed. Mr. Chalmers argued the case before the Supreme Court, and the Court adopted his arguments in ruling that the Open Records Act does not prohibit disclosure of documents that are covered by exceptions to the Act’s mandatory disclosure requirement. Instead, the Supreme Court found that the State has discretion whether to disclose those excepted documents. This was a case of first impressions, and the Court’s decision sets a broad precedent in favor of open and transparent government. To view the article, please click here.