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Las Vegas Metro. Police Dep't v. Blackjack Bonding, Inc.

Supreme Court of Nevada

March 5, 2015

LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT; AND DOUGLAS C. GILLESPIE, Appellants,
v.
BLACKJACK BONDING, INC., Respondent. BLACKJACK BONDING, INC., Appellant,
v.
LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT; AND DOUGLAS C. GILLESPIE, Respondents

Page 609

Consolidated appeals from a district court order granting in part a writ of mandamus to compel compliance with a public records request and a post-judgment order denying a motion for attorney fees and costs. Eighth Judicial District Court, Clark County; Jerry A. Wiese, Judge.

Olson, Cannon, Gormley, Angulo & Stoberski and Thomas D. Dillard, Jr., Las Vegas, for Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Douglas C. Gillespie.

Armstrong Teasdale, LLP, and Tracy A. DiFillippo and Conor P. Flynn, Las Vegas, for Blackjack Bonding, Inc.

Josh M. Reid, City Attorney, and Michael J. Oh, Assistant City Attorney, Henderson, for Amicus Curiae City of Henderson.

Staci J. Pratt and Allen Lichtenstein, Las Vegas, for Amicus Curiae American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada Foundation.

BEFORE PARRAGUIRRE, SAITTA and PICKERING, JJ.

OPINION

Page 610

SAITTA, J.:

The Nevada Public Records Act (NPRA) requires governmental agencies to make nonconfidential public records within their legal custody or control available to the public. NRS 239.010. It also entitles a requester who prevails in a lawsuit to compel the production of public records to recover reasonable attorney fees and costs. NRS 239.011.

In the present case, a private telecommunications provider contracted with Clark County to provide telephone services to inmates at a county jail and to make records of the inmates' calls available to the governmental agency operating the jail. At issue here is whether (1) this information was a public record within the agency's legal custody or control and thus subject to disclosure and (2) the requester of this information was entitled to recover attorney fees and costs. We hold that this information is a public record because it concerns the provision of a public service and is within the agency's legal control. We also hold that the requester was a prevailing party and thus entitled to recover attorney fees and costs pursuant to NRS 239.011.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In 2011, Clark County and CenturyLink, a private telecommunications provider, entered into a contract for the provision of inmate telephone services for the Clark County Detention Center (CCDC). Under the contract, CenturyLink provides a telephone system that could generate records of inmate telephone calls " for use in administrative and investigative purposes." The records include, among other details, the number dialed, the call duration, the station originating the call, the call's cost, and the method of call termination. The system provides CCDC personnel with access to historical detail records containing multiple types of data, including calls to specified destination numbers, calls from specific inmates, completed and incomplete calls, and calls from specific inmate telephones. It allows the CCDC system administrators to print reports based on recorded data.

In 2012, Blackjack Bonding, Inc., made a public records request to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD), the governmental entity that runs the CCDC. In

Page 611

the request, Blackjack sought " all call detail records from telephones used by [CCDC] inmates. .. for 2011 and 2012" --specifically, " a call log that details the description of the phone used.. ., the call start time, dialed number, complete code, call type, talk seconds, billed time, cost, inmate id, and last name." Additionally, Blackjack asked for " a list of all phones used by inmates and the phone description, including whether the phone is used to place. .. free calls, collect calls, or both." Blackjack subsequently narrowed the scope of the requested information to calls to " all telephone numbers listed on the various bail bond agent jail lists posted in CCDC in 2011 and 2012" and conveyed that it understood " that the inmate names and identification numbers may need to be redacted." LVMPD denied Blackjack's request, claiming that it did not possess the records.

Blackjack then petitioned the district court for a writ of mandamus to compel LVMPD to provide the requested records. In support of its petition, Blackjack submitted an affidavit from its president stating that before making the public records request at issue, Blackjack asked CenturyLink to provide call detail records regarding CCDC inmate calls to Blackjack's number and received this data on the day that it made the request. The district court granted in part Blackjack's request for mandamus relief, stating that (1) the requested records were public records that LVMPD had a duty to produce, (2) the inmates' names and identification numbers must be redacted before production, and (3) Blackjack would pay the costs associated with the production.

Blackjack also made a motion for attorney fees and costs. The district court denied Blackjack's motion because it found that (1) the order granting writ relief in part required Blackjack to pay the costs associated with the production of the records and precluded LVMPD from paying any expenses, including Blackjack's attorney fees and costs, and (2) Blackjack was not a prevailing party.

LVMPD appealed the district court's order granting partial writ relief to Blackjack. Blackjack appealed the district court's denial of ...


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