2015 ORS 192.490¹
Court authority in reviewing action denying right to inspect public records
  • docketing
  • costs and attorney fees

(1) In any suit filed under ORS 192.450 (Petition to review denial of right to inspect state public record), 192.460 (Procedure to review denial of right to inspect other public records), 192.470 (Petition form) or 192.480 (Procedure to review denial by elected official of right to inspect public records), the court has jurisdiction to enjoin the public body from withholding records and to order the production of any records improperly withheld from the person seeking disclosure. The court shall determine the matter de novo and the burden is on the public body to sustain its action. The court, on its own motion, may view the documents in controversy in camera before reaching a decision. Any noncompliance with the order of the court may be punished as contempt of court.

(2) Except as to causes the court considers of greater importance, proceedings arising under ORS 192.450 (Petition to review denial of right to inspect state public record), 192.460 (Procedure to review denial of right to inspect other public records), 192.470 (Petition form) or 192.480 (Procedure to review denial by elected official of right to inspect public records) take precedence on the docket over all other causes and shall be assigned for hearing and trial at the earliest practicable date and expedited in every way.

(3) If a person seeking the right to inspect or to receive a copy of a public record prevails in the suit, the person shall be awarded costs and disbursements and reasonable attorney fees at trial and on appeal. If the person prevails in part, the court may in its discretion award the person costs and disbursements and reasonable attorney fees at trial and on appeal, or an appropriate portion thereof. If the state agency failed to comply with the Attorney General’s order in full and did not issue a notice of intention to institute proceedings pursuant to ORS 192.450 (Petition to review denial of right to inspect state public record) (2) within seven days after issuance of the order, or did not institute the proceedings within seven days after issuance of the notice, the petitioner shall be awarded costs of suit at the trial level and reasonable attorney fees regardless of which party instituted the suit and regardless of which party prevailed therein. [1973 c.794 §9; 1975 c.308 §3; 1981 c.897 §40]

Notes of Decisions

Where plaintiff obtained alternative writ of mandamus compelling defendants to produce public docu­ments district attorney had ordered defendants to disclose under Public Records Law, plaintiff was not entitled to costs, disburse­ments or attorney fees because mandamus under ORS 34.110 (When and to whom writ issued) is not pro­ceed­ing for injunctive or declaratory relief under this sec­tion. State ex rel Oregon Television, Inc. v. Prophet, 97 Or App 525, 776 P2d 592 (1989)

This sec­tion does not support award of attorney fees against private party that intervened to defend public body's refusal to disclose record. Western Communica­tions, Inc. v. Deschutes County, 100 Or App 706, 788 P2d 1013 (1990), Sup Ct review denied

Where plaintiff publishing company prevailed in suit by es­tab­lishing that school district's policy exempting public records from disclosure is unenforceable, plaintiff is entitled to reasonable attorney fees at trial and on ap­peal. Guard Publishing Co. v. Lane County School Dist., 310 Or 32, 791 P2d 854 (1990)

When, instead of complying with pro­ce­dures stated in this pro­vi­sion for either complying with or challenging order to disclose public records, public body filed peti­tion for review of case raising some of same issues in present case, trial court erred in denying attorney fees to plaintiff. Davis v. Walker, 108 Or App 128, 814 P2d 547 (1991)

Good faith of party failing to comply with Attorney General order is irrelevant to award of attorney fees and costs. Gray v. Salem-Keizer School District, 139 Or App 556, 912 P2d 938 (1996), Sup Ct review denied

Failure of public body to provide Attorney General or district attorney with state­ment of reasons for believing public record should not be disclosed does not prevent public body from asserting disclosure exemp­tion in ac­tion for declaratory or injunctive relief. In Defense of Animals v. OHSU, 199 Or App 160, 112 P3d 336 (2005)

Circuit court has authority to review reasonableness of public body fees. In Defense of Animals v. OHSU, 199 Or App 160, 112 P3d 336 (2005)

Failure to comply with Attorney General's order "in full" refers only to noncompliance with Attorney General's order to disclose record to peti­tioner under ORS 192.450 (Petition to review denial of right to inspect state public record). Klamath County School District v. Teamey, 207 Or App 250, 140 P3d 1152 (2006), Sup Ct review denied

"Attorney fees" means reasonable value of services performed by attorney, including services performed by attorney who acted pro se. Colby v. Gunson, 349 Or 1, 238 P3d 374 (2010)

Notes of Decisions

Failure of legislature to include reference to courts and court records such as those particularly named in ORS 192.005 (Definitions for ORS 192.005 to 192.170) tells against applica­tion of these sec­tions to courts. State ex rel KOIN-TV v. Olsen, 300 Or 392, 711 P2d 966 (1985)

School district's blanket policy exempting public records from disclosure without individualized showing, violates public records law and is therefore unenforceable. Guard Publishing Co. v. Lane County School Dist., 310 Or 32, 791 P2d 854 (1990)

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Financial state­ments of hospitals as public records, (1974) Vol 36, p 893; crim­i­nal records subject to Public Records Law, (1974) Vol 37, p 126; power of county to refuse the right to copy maps, which are public records, with an individual's own equip­ment and to refuse to supply magnetic tape containing public records, (1979) Vol 39, p 721; Oregon Medical Insurance Pool is funda­mentally private-sector body, under virtually total private control, created by state to fulfill public purpose and is not state agency or public body subject to Public Records Law, (1989) Vol 46, p 155; ap­pli­ca­bil­i­ty to prison work program records, (1996) Vol 48, p 134; disclosure of per­sonal in­for­ma­­tion obtained from motor vehicle records, (1998) Vol 49, p 127

Law Review Cita­tions

53 OLR 354-363 (1974); 55 OLR 354-359 (1976); 56 OLR 387 (1977)

Chapter 192

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Attorney General's Public Meetings and Records Manual, (1973) Vol 36, p 543; public meetings and records manual, (1976) Vol 37, p 1087; pro­hi­bi­­tion on disclosing marriage records, (1998) Vol 49, p 21


1 Legislative Counsel Committee, CHAPTER 192—Records; Public Reports and Meetings, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ors192.­html (2015) (last ac­cessed Jul. 16, 2016).
 
2 Legislative Counsel Committee, Annotations to the Oregon Revised Stat­utes, Cumulative Supplement - 2015, Chapter 192, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ano192.­html (2015) (last ac­cessed Jul. 16, 2016).
 
3 OregonLaws.org assembles these lists by analyzing references between Sections. Each listed item refers back to the current Section in its own text. The result reveals relationships in the code that may not have otherwise been apparent.