Palau Trial Court issued a ruling in support of the Palau’s Open Government Act in a Civil Action 18-155, with Plaintiff Jackson Ngiraingas suing Peleliu Governor Temmy Shmull for violation of the Open Government Act.

Judge Materne ruling in favor of Plaintiff Ngiraingas cited Governor Shmull of violation of OGA for failing to respond to plaintiff’s requests in timely manner and failing to produce public records as requested.

The case stemmed from complaint filed by Plaintiff Ngiraingas claiming that his numerous letters since 2015 to the defendant Governor Shmull requesting information were not answered in accordance with the Open Government Act and therefore violated the law.

Plaintiff Ngiraingas had requested information pertaining to cost estimations for certain public projects, information on certain sections of State public laws, documents and records pertaining to state programs and projects, procurement documents for certain buildings, invoices, receipts, bank statements of Peleliu Pan Site and documents and reports on trips taken by the defendant.

Governor Shmull, according to court documents, had asked for more clarification on some of the letters, denied some of the requests based on confidentiality exemptions, denied others saying that some documents were not in possession of the State and for other requested information, Defendant did not provide any response.

At the trial, Defendant asserted that the letters did not reference OGA and that information was open to public without actually informing the plaintiff that the information was available.

Court stated that the “Defendant needs to spell out in his response to the plaintiff what records can and cannot be made available.  Furthermore, defendant needs to have procedures in place as mandated by the Act so that the 10 days requirement can be aptly complied with.”

Court ordered Governor Shmull to pay fine of $500 and to make available requested documents in compliance with OGA.