Former city attorney charged with violating Open Records Act

A former city attorney pleaded not guilty to seven misdemeanor counts alleging violations of state open records laws.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

GROVE, Okla. (July 28, 2004) — A former city attorney in Grove, Okla., was charged last Friday, July 23, with seven misdemeanor counts of violating the state’s Open Records Act.

According to the affidavit for arrest filed in District Court in Jay, Okla., Dorothy Parker refused to provide a local resident with a copy of her resume and information packets that include meeting agendas received by Grove city councilors.

According to court records, Parker admitted to advising Grove City Clerk Bonnie Buzzard and Grove City Manager William Galletly not to release the documents, even after the district attorney’s office notified them that the records were public.

Associate District Court Judge Barry Denney agreed April 8, ruling that the packets and resume are public records and must be turned over to the resident, Earl Shero.

After an investigation by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Buzzard and Galletly were charged with the same seven counts of violating the state’s open records law. However, they accepted a plea bargain offered by District Attorney Eddie Wyant. The plea agreement included a small fine, six months probation, and attending seminars on open records and open meetings laws.

Parker refused a similar deal. The Grove City Council chose not to rehire Parker as the city attorney in June.

Wyant declined to comment, and Parker’s attorney, Larry Oliver, did not return repeated phone messages seeking comment.

If convicted, Parker could face fines totaling $7,000 or prison time in a county jail for up to seven years. Her trial is scheduled to begin in late August.

(Oklahoma v. Parker; Counsel: Larry L. Oliver, Larry L. Oliver & Associates, Tulsa)