FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIFTH DIVISION [NO.
60CV-15-6436] HONORABLE WENDELL GRIFFEN, JUDGE
V. Baugh, PLC, by: Monty Vaughan Baugh, for appellants.
W. Thompson Law Firm, P.A., by: Morris W. Thompson, for
BRANDON J. HARRISON, Judge.
Doc Holladay and Sergeant Lesa Warner (collectively Holladay)
appeal the Pulaski County Circuit Court's order that (1)
found that a prison transport manifest did not fall within
the scope of the "undisclosed investigation"
exception to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
and (2) awarded attorney's fees and costs to Bessie
Glass. We find no error and affirm.
December 2015, Johnnie Lee Phillips attempted to escape while
being transported with other inmates and pretrial detainees
from the Pulaski County Courthouse to the Pulaski County
Regional Detention Facility. On December 10, Glass, who is
Phillips's aunt, requested a copy of the "trip
sheet, " or transportation manifest, which is a list of
the passengers who were on the transport vehicle when the
escape attempt occurred. Six days later, on December 16,
Glass was denied a copy of the manifest; Sergeant Lesa Warner
explained via email that it was exempt pursuant to Ark. Code
Ann. § 25-19-1105(b)(6) (Repl. 2014) (exemption that
excludes "undisclosed investigations by law enforcement
agencies of suspected criminal activities" from the
December 2015, Glass filed a complaint against Pulaski
County, Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay, and Lesa
Warner. Glass alleged a violation of the FOIA and
requested that Holladay be ordered to provide the manifest.
She also requested attorney's fees and other litigation
expenses. Holladay responded with a motion to dismiss,
arguing that the complaint failed to state facts upon which
relief could be granted. Holladay also asserted that the
manifest had been provided to Glass on 4 January 2016, so the
issue was now moot.
order filed on 22 April 2016, the circuit court denied
Holladay's motion to dismiss. First, the circuit court
found that the case fell within an exception to the mootness
doctrine because it presented an issue capable of repetition
yet evading review. The court also found that the manifest
was not subject to the "undisclosed investigations"
exception, citing Hengel v. Pine Bluff, 307 Ark.
457, 821 S.W.2d 761 (1991). In Hengel, our supreme
court held that jail logs, arrest records, and shift sheets
were not sufficiently investigatory in nature to fit within
the exception to public disclosure. The opinion indicated
that subsection (b)(6) is meant to exempt only "internal
'work product' materials containing details of an
investigation." 307 Ark. at 461, 821 S.W.2d at 763
(quoting J. Watkins, The Arkansas Freedom of Information
Act 72 (1988)).
present case, the circuit court found that the manifest was
"simply a log, a list of names, dates, locations, and
times. The nature of the manifest is clearly
non-investigative; it is not internal work product material,
and does not contain details of any investigation."
Holladay filed a motion for reconsideration, objecting to the
court effectively entering a judgment on the pleadings and
requesting the opportunity to file an answer to the complaint
and present witnesses at a hearing. Glass petitioned for
attorney's fees and costs in the amount of $12, 151.50.
The circuit court entered an order denying that its previous
order had been a judgment on the pleadings. The court denied
the motion for reconsideration and directed that a final
hearing be set to address the merits of the case and
appropriate attorney's fees, if any.
filed an answer to the complaint on 7 July 2016. Glass moved
to strike the answer, arguing that it was filed too late
after the denial of the motion to dismiss. Holladay responded
and denied that the answer was untimely; Holladay also moved
for summary judgment based on essentially the same arguments
made in the motion to dismiss.
circuit court convened a hearing on 21 October 2016. At the
onset, the court announced that it was denying the motion to
strike and the motion for summary judgment. The court
reiterated its earlier finding that the manifest was not
subject to the "undisclosed investigations"
exception and that Hengel was controlling. Holladay
acknowledged that on "most routine days" the
manifest would be subject to disclosure under the FOIA but
argued that in this case "the trip sheet contains an
exclusive list of all individuals who are witnesses to the
escape and/or suspects in the assistance of the escape."
Holladay asserted that the list was being used in an
investigation of possible accomplices and was therefore
investigatory in nature. The court disagreed and stated,
"[I]f Hengel is to have any weight at all, it
has to be controlling on the issue of whether or not a jail
log, arrest record[, ] and shift sheet are investigatory in
The court concluded,
[T]he question for this case is whether or not the trip sheet
was an undisclosed investigation. Plainly, it was a public
record. . . . [T]here was an investigation and you could put
the trip sheet in the investigation, but putting the trip
sheet in the investigation does not transform the nature of
the trip sheet.
. . . .
There happened to be an escape. The fact that there was an
escape does not define the nature of the information of who
was on the vehicle and that's all the trip ...