County attorney represents self at IPIB hearing
According to the Associated Press (AP), Washington County Attorney Larry Brock told an administrative law judge that he unknowingly violated the state’s open records law because he was too busy to provide public documents to a former county employee.
The Des Moines Register reports that Brock said he is personally responsible for 50 to 75 active cases at any given time, and that his office is involved with courtroom activities four days a week.
The Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) in Des Moines received a complaint that Brock violated Iowa public record laws. The complaint was from former Washington County park ranger Bob Bellmer, who was released from his job on Jan. 27, 2014.
Brock appeared before Administrative Law Judge Margaret LaMarche, Thursday. IPIB Executive Director Keith Luchtel prosecuted the case. IPIB Deputy Director Margaret Johnson testified the details of the case
During a telephone interview Friday morning, Johnson said that a hearing before an administrative law judge is similar to a bench trial. She also said that Brock represented himself and called himself as a witness.
The AP reported that Brock is the first public official charged by the year-old IPIB with knowingly violating the state’s public records law. The Des Moines Register reports that if he is found to have violated open records, he could face a civil penalty of up to $500 and reasonable attorney fees. But if he “knowingly violated” the law, the penalty ranges from $1,000 to $2,500.
The Des Moines Register reports that LaMarche hopes to issue a written ruling within 30 days.
Brock did not return a phone call to The Journal by press time.