Defendants in IPRA case to submit email index

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By Tris DeRoma

Los Alamos County Councilor Susan O’Leary has agreed to submit to the First Judicial District Court an index of emails and a brief summary of what they’re about she sent on May 15, 2016.

In June 2017, Patrick Brenner sued the Los Alamos County Council for access to all emails from Los Alamos County Councilors and other officials that were sent on May 15, 2016.

According to Brenner, O’Leary is the only one that hasn’t complied fully with that request.

Brenner, and his attorney, Blair Dunn, are alleging the county violated the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act when it failed to give Brenner access to all the emails that occurred between county councilors and county officials on that day.

O’Leary has not submitted emails from a personal account or revealing what they contain, saying through her attorney that those particular emails she sent May 15, 2016, have no interest to Brenner. O’Leary, through her attorney, Kate Ferlic, of  Santa Fe law firm Egolf, Ferlic, and Harwood, requested  Jan. 19  that a judge, instead, have an in-camera review of the disputed emails to determine whether they are exempt from the Inspection of Public Records Act, according to court records.

Ferlic also said O’Leary had concerns about the safety of her family and friends if the emails were made public under IPRA.

 “Those must be some pretty fantastic emails if she fears for the safety of her family and friends,” Brenner said. “For her to claim that there are security and safety claims about herself and her family… well, I am going on the record right now…I am not a dangerous person. I would never do anything to hurt her or her family. For her to make any other accusation or allegation that I would, and for her use that as the reason for the withholding of her email...that’s pretty sorry.”  

On May 15, 2016, Brenner sent an email to the Los Alamos County Council criticizing them for their discussions to get rid of the Los Alamos County Sheriff’s Office and for being in favor of a $20 million recreation bond residents were voting on later that month. In his email, he called the councilors “disgusting” and “pigs.” 

When the letter made it into the media, he accused Susan O’Leary of leaking it.

“In records returned by the Designated Custodian of Public Records, Barb Ricci, O’Leary intentionally and maliciously indirectly leaked my email to the press,” Brenner said in a complaint to the county and the council. “With the appearance of that letter in numerous forms, Susan deliberately with malicious intent and irrevocably harmed my personal reputation, my business and my family. Unlike you, I am not a public figure. I hold no title, I am not responsible to constituents. I only cast my vote like any other ordinary citizen.”

In the same complaint, he also apologized to the council for the harsh language he used in his original letter.

“My letter to you that day was drafted with passion. While I consider the points I raised to be valid, the language I used was not appropriate and the personal attack was too much.”

According to a Jan. 23 court document, both parties agreed for O’Leary to submit a summary and index of the emails for review to Judge Gregory Shaffer before any other decisions are made. A motion hearing has been scheduled in First Judicial District Court for March 26.