The First Amendment Coalition (FAC) has been awarded $100,000 in attorneys’ fees in its successful public records lawsuit against Milpitas.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Sunil Kulkarni justified the order because of the “significant public interest” in disclosing records sought by the free speech nonprofit detailing alleged misconduct by ex-City Manager Tom Williams.
Williams will have to pay $7,750 in attorneys’ fees and costs; the city, $93,260.
The order comes five months after the coalition won the lawsuit and Kulkarni directed the city to release records pertaining to alleged wrongdoing by Williams, who was accused of using a city charge card to cover his personal legal fees. Milpitas originally withheld documents requested by San Jose Inside and the Milpitas Post because Williams filed a “reverse California Public Records Act” lawsuit to block their release.
First Amendment Coalition Executive Director David Snyder said the recent court order affirms that the city should have disclosed the documents in the first place.
“We are grateful that the court got it right here, and that the lawyers who so capably represented FAC’s—and the public’s—interest will be compensated for bringing to light records about misconduct at the highest level of city government,” he said.
James Chadwick and Julie Bauman, of Sheppard Mullin law firm, represented the First Amendment Coalition in the case.