Maine high court rules against counties in Freedom of Access suit

Posted Feb. 24, 2011, at 12:56 p.m.

LEWISTON, Maine — A Superior Court justice has ruled that six Maine counties overcharged a Cumberland businessman who requested public records under the state’s Freedom of Access law.

Justice Thomas Warren ruled that fees charged by Androscoggin, Aroostook, Cumberland, Knox, Penobscot and York counties — in response to a request by John Simpson — can’t be justified.

The Sun Journal of Lewiston says Simpson, owner of MacImage of Maine, filed Freedom of Access requests in 2009 for digital copies of records in the six counties’ registries to create his own document database. Among the prices quoted by the counties were $12 million by Cumberland, and $4 million by Penobscot at $1 per page for 4 million pages.

Simpson’s attorney, Sigmund Schutz, says he expects the decision to lead to greatly discounted fees.