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CEI Freedom of Information Victory Upheld Against NY AG Schneiderman's Appeal

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On Thursday evening, the New York Supreme Court (Appellate Division) ruled in favor of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) in an appeal brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The government document that led to Competitive Enterprise Institute v. The Attorney General of New York, involved AG Schneiderman’s creation of a multi-state coalition to shut down public debate over climate change. AG Schneiderman refused to comply with CEI's request for the Common Interest Agreement on which the coalition was based, arguing that the document could be withheld as confidential attorney work product under New York's Freedom of Information Law. The trial court rejected Schneiderman’s claim and awarded CEI attorney fees.

Schneiderman appealed. In its ruling yesterday, the appellate court rejected Schneiderman’s claim of confidentiality, especially since Schneiderman had held a press conference touting the goals of his coalition. The appellate court also upheld CEI’s attorney fee award, though it did reduce it slightly.

CEI attorney Anna St. John said the following about the court’s decision:

“The Appellate Division is the latest court to reject the attorney general's bogus excuses for hiding information from the public. We hope this ruling will encourage the attorney general to be more transparent about his office's activities.”

>> Read more about this case here.