Washington County Common Pleas Judge Susan Boyer made a judgment this week in the lawsuit brought against the city of Marietta involving a public records request.
The requests were made for old items that seemingly would be of no interest or use to anyone and by people who made similar requests in other cities. They seemed to be very thinly veiled attempts to request items that could not be produced, meaning penalties and a payday.
There have been similar requests from other people in other locations as well.
We hope the local ruling, which included the decision that those who made the frivolous requests pay the city back more than $300,000 in legal and other fees, sends a message to those trying to abuse the public records laws.
The system of fining those public entities who can't produce records upon request wasn't put in place to give an undeserved windfall to schemers.
It's there as a way to ensure that government branches make public information that taxpayers are entitled to and don't attempt to hide or cover up financial or other information.
There must be a system in place to ensure compliance.
Just as much as it's important to find a way to stop those who try to take advantage of the system, as was seemingly done locally, it's also important to make sure that a system remains in place that makes it easy for citizens to obtain information they have a right to.
We hope that isn't lost, as everyone works to address these frivolous claims.