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State accused of failing to turn over records

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – An attorney who helped file a gender discrimination lawsuit against the State Police chief – on behalf of three current or former officers – has now accused the state of failing to turn over public records showing settlements involving the Governor’s Office and the Department of Public Safety.

Diane Garrity, a Santa Fe lawyer, is seeking settlements going back several years – records that she expects will support the other lawsuit she filed, accusing State Police Chief Pete Kassetas of “blatant, ongoing and systematic discrimination” against officers based on gender and sexual orientation.

Garrity filed the initial public records request in April and she says she hasn’t received all of the documents she’s entitled to, according to her suit.

The state, in turn, says it has already turned over some documents and is still working on the rest of her request.

“Dianne Garrity’s extremely voluminous (records) request for seven years of material requires extensive review of tens of thousands of records and documents before release in order to comply with state law,” General Services Department spokesman Patrick Hall said in a written statement.

The state Inspection of Public Records Act requires records custodians to make public records available as soon as practical or within 15 days of a written request. They can seek a reasonable amount of extra time for “excessively burdensome or broad” requests.

In this case, Wyndham Kemsley, then the spokesman for the General Services Department, told Garrity that her request was “quite broad in scope, and therefore significantly burdensome to fulfill,” according to email exchanges attached to Garrity’s lawsuit.

An attorney in the department followed up by releasing some documents in July and said he would “be in contact soon regarding additional responsive records,” according to the emails.

Garrity, through her own attorneys, is now asking a judge to order the state to turn over the additional documents and to award damages.

In a separate lawsuit, Garrity represents Sgt. Monica Martinez-Jones, retired Lt. Julia Armendariz and retired Deputy Chief Michael Ryan Suggs – who have accused the State Police chief of “blatant, ongoing and systematic discrimination” against officers based on gender and sexual orientation.

Attorneys representing the state are asking a judge to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that it’s filled with “impossibly vague and ambiguous” allegations and fails to comply with court rules.