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Judge denies sheriff’s request to prevent his deposition from being videotaped

By Sean Hart

Blue Mountain Eagle

Published on September 15, 2016 5:46PM

Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer

Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer

A judge denied Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer’s request to prohibit video recording of his deposition in the civil lawsuit filed by the Oregonian related to public records requests.

Judge William D. Cramer Jr. said he did not believe there was a basis to prohibit video recording of the depositions in the case Thursday, Sept. 15, in Grant County Circuit Court. He said video can be useful to the court to help determine the credibility of those deposed.

In an opinion letter filed Monday, Sept. 19, Cramer also denied an additional request to prevent the deposition from being used for non-litigation purposes, such as reporting the news. Cramer said reporting the news “is a legitimate use of information well recognized and well established” and that the “defendants have not provided a sufficient basis to restrict the use of deposition testimony during the case.”

Cramer said he would have granted a protective order — restricting the use of the deposition until the litigation was concluded — if this case was before a jury but that this case “should not be affected by pre-trial news reports.”

In a footnote, Cramer said he was sensitive to the fact Palmer “is facing independent investigations into conduct unrelated to this case” and “involved in a contested election” but that he did not believe a protective order was warranted.

The case began when Oregonian Publishing Company and reporter Les Zaitz filed a complaint in May against Grant County Sheriff’s Office, Palmer and Deputy Sally DeFord seeking a judge to declare that certain records sought were public records and to obtain an injunction forcing them to be disclosed. Cramer granted the Oregonian’s request for a temporary restraining order preventing the sheriff’s office from deleting any emails related to the case in August.

Palmer’s attorney, D. Zachary Hostetter of Hostetter Law Group, requested that the depositions not be videotaped in a Sept. 9 motion for a protective order regarding the depositions.

In a declaration in support of the motion, Palmer said, “Videotaping the depositions is not reasonable, nor is it necessary, and me and deputy DeFord do not wish to be exposed to the embarrassment and annoyance of being videotaped in our depositions.”

The motion also requested that the depositions be limited to one day instead of three and that the inquiry in the depositions be limited, both of which Cramer also denied. Cramer said, however, he expected the parties to act professionally by taking only as much time as needed for the depositions and by limiting the inquiry to what is reasonably related to the case as required by Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure.

On Aug. 31, Benjamin Boyd of Hostetter Law Group also filed a motion to strike, or remove, a paragraph from the Oregonian’s complaint, which is scheduled for a hearing at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22.

Boyd argues the paragraph, which lists public records laws and rules, is “frivolous, irrelevant and improperly pleaded evidentiary matter inserted into plaintiff’s amended pleading.”

The paragraph reads: “The state and its political subdivisions have a responsibility to ensure orderly retention and destruction of all public records. ORS 192.001(1)(c). The Secretary of State Archives Division has promulgated rules reiterating that custodians of public records are specifically charged by statute with the responsibility of protecting them. OAR 166-020-0010(1). Those rules set specific retention schedules for county records, OAR 166-150-0005, which must be followed. ORS 192.108. It is a crime to knowingly destroy, conceal, remove of falsely alter a public record without lawful authority. ORS 162.305.”

Palmer’s attorney’s have argued he followed appropriate rules regarding public records.


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