PSPRS Federal Subpoena Is A Public Record
Judge rules PSPRS federal subpoena is a public record
A judge has ruled that a federal grand jury subpoena seeking internal documents for a criminal investigation into the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System is a public record that should be released.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Arthur Anderson this week ruled in favor of Judicial Watch Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group that sued for the subpoena.
The judge, however, did not provide a deadline for the records to be produced by the pension system. The system serves Arizona police officers, firefighters, elected officials and prison guards.
PSPRS Chairman Brian Tobin said he intends to release details of the subpoena after Monday’s meeting of the retirement system’s board of directors.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said PSPRS wasted tax dollars and trust funds in fighting the case.
“It’s a great victory for the public’s right to know,” Fitton said.
Judicial Watch filed a public records request for the documents after The Arizona Republic in early March reported that PSPRS had received a federal grand jury subpoena as part of a criminal investigation into whether pension-trust managers inflated certain real-estate investment values. PSPRS has denied the allegations.
The trust refused to release the records, prompting Judicial Watch to sue. The trust claimed it was not in its best interest to release the records and that disclosure might interfere with a federal grand jury investigation.
However, the judge said “PSPRS does not show any specific, material harm that would result from disclosure of this federal grand jury subpoena.” He also ruled that “although the public records law does not mandate disclosure of every document held by a state agency, a document with a ‘substantial nexus to government activities’ is a public record. … Clearly there is such a substantial nexus here.’ “