Franklin v. Williams, Doc. No. 220-1999-E-007 (Sullivan Super. Ct., April 13, 1999) (Morrill, J.)






MARY WILLIAMS, project director

Docket no. 99-E-007


Mr. Franklin seeks to examine the complete legal bills incurred by the NH/VT Solid Waste Project in 1998 pursuant to RSA chapter 91-A, the "Right-to-Know Law." The Solid Waste Project has produced all its bills with redactions. Plaintiff's ex. 1. The redacted bills detail the type of legal work, the lawyer who did the work, the time spent, the date of the work, and the charge for that time. Prior to turning over copies of these bills to Mr. Franklin, counsel redacted the name of the individual with whom a lawyer talked and the precise nature of the legal work. Otherwise the bills are thorough and complete.

Although the Right-to-Know Law should be broadly construed, it does not abrogate the attorney/client privilege. Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests v. Water Supply & Pollution Control Comm'n, 115 N.H. 192, 194 (1975). Detailed legal bills, such as those submitted by counsel for the Solid Waste Project, by their very nature contain attorney/client communications, which are privileged. A review of the attorneys' statements provided to Mr. Franklin demonstrate that only confidential material was redacted. Since I find the Solid Waste Project has complied with RSA chapter 91-A, Mr. Franklin's petition is dismissed.

Mr. Franklin orally argued that on account of his position as a representative from the Town of Newport and therefore a member of the "joint committee," which consists of representatives from the Vermont and New Hampshire communities that constitute the Solid Waste Project, he is a client of the Solid Waste Project's attorneys and therefore entitled to review their legal bills. The "joint meeting" of representatives elects the "executive committee" which, much like a board of directors, directs the general course of the entity, including hiring the "project director," nominal defendant in this case. Defendant's ex. A, tab A. Mr. Franklin's role as a "representative" of the Town of Newport and member of "joint meeting" does not entitle him to unfettered access to the legal bills of the Solid Waste Project. McCabe v. Arcidy, 138 N.H. 20, 26 (1993).

Dated: April 13, 1999    /s/   

Robert E.K. Morrill

Presiding Justice