Statement Regarding Billing Records from Atlanta City Attorney Jeremy Berry

The City of Atlanta has complied with both the letter and the spirit of the Open Records Act. The City has not withheld information in response to the AJC’s Open Records Act requests. To the contrary, and for the AJC’s convenience, the City of Atlanta provided the AJC with time entries for work performed by Baker Donelson and did so in a compiled summary. The Open Records Act does not require government entities to provide a requesting party with “reports, summaries, and compilations not in existence at the time of the request.” (See O.C.G.A. §§ 50-18-71(b)(1)(A), 50-18-71(j)). However, compilations or summaries are not prohibited and are allowed at the discretion of the public agency. The City exercises this discretion to create such reports, summaries or compilations in the interest of expediency, clarity, or efficiency in responding to a request.

That is all that happened in this instance. Because the time entries for the work on the investigation were not segregated in the billing records, the City provided the AJC with a compilation of the various billing entries – solely to assist the AJC and for the AJC’s convenience. Indeed, a few days after producing the records at issue, on or about November 14 the City provided the AJC with a newly-created summary of all Baker Donelson timekeepers’ rates in response to an Open Records Act request. The AJC received the newly-created summary without question. I have enclosed a copy of the time keeper rate summary with this email.

The AJC requested billing records submitted by Baker Donelson for work related to the DOJ investigation. Such records did not exist in a discrete record. Therefore, the responsive billing records were compiled from their various locations and provided to the AJC. No time entry was altered in any way. The City has provided all of the records requested by the AJC and no violation of the Open Records Act, or any other law, has occurred.

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