Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson likely will have to make some of his records available to Aaron Malin.
Presiding Circuit Judge Pat Joyce posted a docket entry Friday granting summary judgment to Malin in his December 2015 lawsuit accusing Richardson of violating the state's open records law.
Joyce wrote in the two-line docket entry that Malin's lawyers — Dave Roland of Mexico and the ACLU — are "to prepare (the) formal order."
The case began in April 2015 when Malin — then doing research for the group Show-Me Cannabis — asked Richardson's office for records of any correspondence or communication between the Cole County Prosecutor's office and the Mustang Drug Task Force, which covers Cole, Callaway and Boone counties.
On April 8, the 2015 lawsuit said, Richardson provided a denial letter telling Malin: "The records you requested, even if they existed, would not be categorized. To search, categorize, and compile such records would be unduly burdensome.
"The costs to find and copy would be hard to calculate. Without confirming or denying the existence of records you requested, any official records of this office would be closed to the public."
Malin made a second request on Oct. 22 asking Richardson and his staff for Cole County grand jury indictments issued since July 2014 regarding the sale of narcotics in public housing.
The next week, Malin asked for any open records inquiries Richardson's office had received since Jan. 1, 2015, along with the corresponding responses.
The lawsuit said Richardson denied the two October inquiries with the same response as in April.
"In an effort to avoid the necessity of a lawsuit, I sent Richardson a letter making clear that his responses to Malin did not fulfill his responsibilities under the Sunshine Law and explaining the consequences if he did not respond properly," Roland told the News Tribune this weekend.
"Richardson made no effort at all to find documents responsive to Malin's requests until after we filed the lawsuit."
After Roland filed the 2015 lawsuit, Richardson told the News Tribune in an email: "Records from the Prosecutor's office are released under court orders. If they get a court order they will then get the records."
A conference call is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. Sept. 18.
Roland said that, during that call, Joyce likely will set a schedule for consideration of the civil penalties, costs and attorney fees assessed against Richardson.
Missouri's Open Meetings/Open Records law allows a court to order a civil penalty up to $5,000, as well as all costs and reasonable attorney fees if the court determines the public official's or government organization's violation of the law was "purposeful."