FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2019-01916,
DIVISION "N-8" Honorable Ethel Simms Julien, Judge
Hamilton Katie Schwartzmann ACLU FOUNDATION OF LOUISIANA
Jamila Johnson Liyah Brown Conor Gaffney SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW
CENTER COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE
R. Williams ASSISTANT CITY ATTORNEY Megan A. Haynes ASSISTANT
CITY ATTORNEY Corwin St. Raymond DEPUTY CITY ATTORNEY Churita
H. Hansell CHIEF DEPUTY CITY ATTORNEY Donesia D. Turner
SENIOR CHIEF DEPUTY CITY ATTORNEY Sunni J. LeBeouf CITY
ATTORNEY COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT
composed of Judge Terri F. Love, Judge Rosemary Ledet, Judge
Dale N. Atkins)
N. ATKINS, JUDGE
a mandamus action seeking to obtain documents and maps
pursuant to the Louisiana Public Records Law, La. R.S. 44:1,
et. seq. Appellee, Laura Bixby ("Ms.
Bixby"), filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus naming as
defendant, Appellant, Collin Arnold ("Mr. Arnold"),
in his official capacity as custodian of records for New
Orleans Department of Homeland Security and Emergency
Preparedness ("NOHSEP"), seeking any map or maps
which the City of New Orleans (the "City")
maintains showing the locations of four hundred (400)
publicly visible crime cameras, any policies governing the
records keeping of the locations of the cameras, and records
or policies regarding the staff employed by the Real Time
Crime Center ("RTCC"). Additionally, Ms. Bixby
sought attorney's fees and costs. The trial court granted
Ms. Bixby's request for a writ of mandamus and ordered
the release of the requested maps. Ms. Bixby, the prevailing
party, was awarded, by the trial court, attorney's fees
and reasonable costs as required by the Public Records Law.
For the following reasons, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
August 9, 2018, Ms. Bixby, a resident of New Orleans and a
staff attorney for the Orleans Public Defenders, made a
formal public records request to NOHSEP requesting production
of the following records:
(1) Any maps or maps which the City maintains showing the
location of all PUBLICLY VISIBLE (in other words, red and
blue lights and the NOPD logo) real time crime cameras, not
including traffic/red light/school zone cameras, at the
(2) Any policies governing the keeping of records of
locations of such cameras of past dates; and
(3) Records or policies regarding the number and type of
staff employed at the Real Time Crime Center.
August 14, 2018, the New Orleans City Attorney's Office
(the "City Attorney's Office") responded on
behalf of Mr. Arnold and NOHSEP. The City Attorney's
Office denied Ms. Bixby's first and second requests.
However, it provided records responsive to her third request.
In denying Ms. Bixby's first request, the City
Attorney's Office responded as follows:
Records responsive to your first request regarding the
location of the City's crime cameras are exempt from
disclosure under the Public Records Law because they are
records regarding investigative technical equipment and
physical security information created in the prevention of
City Attorney's Office cited La. R.S. 44:3(A)(3) as the
statutory basis for the claimed exemption.
the denial of Ms. Bixby's second request, the City
Attorney's Office responded that:
The Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
does not have records responsive to your second request
regarding policies governing keeping records of locations of
response to the City Attorney's Office partial denial of
her public records request, Ms. Bixby filed, on February 20,
2019, a Petition for Writ of Mandamus pursuant to the
Louisiana Public Records Law (the "Petition")
requesting that Mr. Arnold produce the maps sought in the
first request or be ordered to appear to show cause why he
should not be "ordered to do so." Ms. Bixby also
requested an award for attorney's fees and costs as the
prevailing party pursuant to La. R.S. 44:35(A). Mr. Arnold,
on March 6, 2019, filed an exception of no cause of action
stating that the responsive "public" documents were
produced and provided to Ms. Bixby. Further, Mr. Arnold
responded he "did not refuse to perform his duties as
custodian of the records for [NOHSEP];" therefore, Ms.
Bixby was not entitled to attorney's fees or costs
because he did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in
response to her public records request.
matter came for a contradictory hearing before the trial
court on March 14, 2019. Before the hearing commenced, the trial
court ordered the parties to submit post-hearing memoranda on
the issues presented at the hearing. On May 3, 2019, the
trial court rendered its judgment in which it:
(1) Granted Ms. Bixby's Writ of Mandamus; and
(2) Awarded Ms. Bixby attorney's fees and costs.
trial court also ordered Mr. Arnold to produce the following
Any map or maps which the City maintains showing the location
of all publicly visible real time cameras, not including
traffic/red light/school zone cameras, at present date.
from this judgment that Mr. Arnold appeals.
Arnold argues that the trial court erred in granting the writ
of mandamus because the records sought are exempt from
disclosure. Mr. Arnold also claims the trial court erred in
ruling that NOHSEP is not an intelligence agency. Further,
Mr. Arnold argues that the trial court erred in mandating the
production of the maps because disclosure of the requested
maps is unduly burdensome and overly broad. Lastly, Mr.
Arnold claims the trial court erred in granting
attorney's fees and costs to Ms. Bixby.
of the ...