Outside Legal Counsel PLC

OLC Files FOIA Lawsuit Over Police Reservists Records

For Immediate Release | Apr 24, 2013

Oakley, Michigan – On behalf of a local Oakley, Michigan resident, Outside Legal Counsel PLC, a Saginaw-based law firm, has filed a lawsuit against the Village of Oakley alleging violations of Michigan's Freedom of Information Act.

The Village of Oakley has a difficult recent history of over-policing by non-residents deputized by the Village Police Department. Previous board meetings have revealed that professionals like doctors from Southeast Michigan are serving as police reservists during town festivals and events.

On March 20th, Oakley resident Shannon Bitterman requested records of “all persons serving as a Village of Oakley police reservist for the past three (3) years” pursuant to the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

Michigan’s FOIA statute provides that citizens are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and public employees.

The request was denied by Village Clerk Cheryl Bolf citing that the requester was part of an on-going lawsuit against the Village of Oakley.

No such pending lawsuit exists or did exist, the complaint alleges.

“Villages like Oakley have a solemn legal duty to keep their records and operations open and transparent to the public,” states Philip L. Ellison, attorney for the Oakley resident. “FOIA is a sunshine law designed in the spirit and principles of government transparency and good government.”

The lawsuit, filed in the Saginaw County Circuit Court, seeks a court order compelling disclosure of names of the police volunteers and reservists, an audio copy of a previous village board meeting, and payment of all attorney fees and costs.

The case has been assigned to Judge Robert L. Kaczmarek.

A copy of the lawsuit can be downloaded here.