Robert Freeman, the executive director of the state Committee on Open Government, said Wednesday that records showing the cost of the legal work arising from Westchester’s 2009 fair housing settlement are public and should be released.
The Westchester County Law Department denied a Freedom of Information request for the records on the grounds that they are attorney work product and attorney-client communication. The administration of County Executive Rob Astorino has taken two fights over the interpretation of the settlement to the federal Court of Appeals, racking up many hours of legal work, and has asked for permission from the Board of Legislators to bring a new challenge. For a story click here (Freeman was unavailable last week to comment.).
Years of case law say the billing records of the attorneys in the county Law Department are public records, Freeman said. The only undisclosable portions would be information on litigation strategy that could be redacted, he said.
Photo: Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino discusses the 2009 fair-housing settlement at a press conference at the County Office Building in White Plains. Alyson Velati/The Journal News