Legislative Joint Auditing Committee v. Woosley was a case before the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1987 concerning the deliberative process exemption.
This case established that the deliberative process exemption found at Ark. Code. 25-10-105(b)(7) did not extend to committees created by the legislature but only covered the working papers of specific legislators.
- On January 20, 1985, David Woosley, of the Northwest Arkansas Morning News, submitted a records request to the legislative joint auditing committee for court records as well as notes and working papers.
- The auditing committee released the completed court records but refused to release the working papers, claiming they were exempt under Ark. Code. 25-10-105(b)(7).
- Woosley filed suit for the records.
- After Woosley filed suit but before arriving at trial, the documents in question were subpoenaed by a prosecuting attorney and transferred to his custody.
- The trial court ruled in favor of the newspaper and determined that the documents were not exempt under Ark. Code. 25-10-105(b)(7). However, the documents were exempt while they were in possession of the prosecuting attorney.
- The original decision was appealed by the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee.
Ruling of the court
The trial court ruled in favor of the newspapers, determining that the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee did not fall within the exemption outlined at Ark. Code. 25-10-105(b)(7).
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court. The court determined that the exemption for the working papers of members of the legislature did not extend to legislative committees. In addition, the court rejected the argument that the Code of Ethics of the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants, which requires that working papers of accountants be kept confidential, could not be a factor in determining whether the documents in question are public records. Finally the court rejected the contention that the working papers constituted investigation records, as that exemption only applied to investigative agencies. Based on these determinations, the court ruled in favor of the newspaper, ordering the release of the documents once they were longer a part of an investigation.