In Hemeyer v. KRCG-TV, a case that arose when the Cole County Sheriff filed suit seeking a judicial determination supporting closure of a videotape of a legislator’s booking on drunk driving charges, the Missouri Supreme Court reiterated the public policy statement of openness that is part of the state’s Sunshine Law. To give broad effect to the policy of openness, as prescribed in the Sunshine Law, the court interpreted a component of the Sunshine Law’s remedial provision, Missouri Revised Statutes Section 610.027.5 (“Subsection 5”), liberally against the Cole county Sheriff. As a result of its liberal construction of Subsection 5, the court held that the sheriff was required to pay the television station’s suit-related attorney fees. In so holding, the court provided a booster for the public policy of openness that underlies Missouri’s Sunshine Law by eliminating the possibility that a governmental agency will employ its resources to force an economically weaker record seeker to forego his or her right of access to public records due to the cost associated with being forced to defend in court. The Note supports the analysis of and the decision reached by the Missouri Supreme Court in Hemeyer. Both are consistent with the public policy of openness explicitly provided in the state’s Sunshine Law, as well as in other Missouri record-related statutes that were in effect at the time of the decision.
Michele L. Mekel,
Hobson's Choice: Ensuring Open Government or Conserving Government Funds, A,
66 Mo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/mlr/vol66/iss2/5