Right-to-Know case decided for Nashua resident; the city must provide the files, pay the attorney’s fees

May 8—Nashua City must provide records requested by a resident, a court ruled last week, and the city was ordered to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees.

A judge ruled in Hillsborough County Superior Court that Nashua must provide Laurie Ortolano with the records she requested more than two years ago: security camera footage from the assessor’s office and video recordings interviews with city hall staff conducted by the police for an investigation into the expert’s service which did not lead to any charges.

In his decision, Judge Charles Temple wrote that Nashua should have provided the records requested by Ortolano, and that because the city should have anticipated that Ortolano’s trial would be successful, the city had to pay his attorney’s fees. .

Although the documents at hand were not of great public interest, the judge wrote, the city had no good reason to withhold them.

“While the footage (from a City Hall surveillance camera) does not provide groundbreaking revelations about the workings of the department, they do provide insight into the conduct and activities of a government entity,” says decision. “While the public value of the footage is not enormous, the city’s interest in its non-disclosure is minimal.”

Nashua was ordered to provide documents in another lawsuit last year. Nashua resident Laura Colquhoun filed a right-to-know request requesting all email communications between the city’s director of administrative services and the city’s chief assessment officer in early 2021. The city had argued that the claim was too broad, but a judge ruled it wasn’t.