The Vidor law firm Minton & Marion has filed suit against the city of Port Arthur, alleging two high-profile civil servants have engaged in civil conspiracy by failing to fully comply with information requests.
Through attorney Darrell Minton, the suit was filed Oct. 5 in Jefferson County District Court, and also names Police Chief Mark Blanton and City Attorney Valencia Tizeno as defendants.
According to the lawsuit, the firm sent a request for public information, which was received by Chief Blanton on July 13. In violation of city code, Chief Blanton failed to forward the request to City Attorney Tizeno within 24 hours.
In a letter sent to Tizeno, Blanton complained that the request was an attempt to get information by usurping the discovery process and instructed her to release all information except an offense report.
“Tizeno did produce some of the public information requested, but did not produce the notes, films, photographs and recordings of incidents or disturbances from the time and location referenced in plaintiff’s request,” the suit states, adding that also the dispatch records produced were also redacted.
On Aug. 10 the firm wrote the defendants advising them of the violation of law and made a second request for public information, pursuant to Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code.
“On Sept. 11 the defendants asked the attorney general for an opinion regarding the … request,” the suit states. “The defendants’ request for an attorney general opinion was untimely. This is a criminal violation and it has been reported to the Jefferson County District Attorney.”
Attorney general opinion requests need to be submitted within 10 days of their receipt of the public information request, the suit states.
The firm accuses the defendants of engaging in a civil conspiracy and is seeking an award of exemplary and punitive damages.
Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, is assigned to the case.
Case No. E193-269