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May 13, 2021

Request: Did the City of Minot violate the open records laws by improperly denying a request for records?

Conclusion: The City of Minot received a request for recording, transcripts, and notes from any interviews done by the Center for Mediation and Consultation during the 2020 personnel investigation done for the city. The city did not have transcripts or recordings of interviews, and declined to provide the interview notes, claiming they were exempt as attorney work product because they were created by an attorney who was hired to conduct an independent investigation. The fact that an attorney made the notes does not automatically mean the elements of attorney work product are met. The public entity must still make an analysis of the records to determine whether there are any statutory protections. The City of Minot violated the open records law when it denied a request for records as attorney work product. The city must review the notes, may redact any that have statutory protections, and must release the remaining notes to the requester.

Opinion: 2021-O-05

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