Commonwealth Court affirms independence of Office of Open Records, reinstates Arneson

  • Jun 10, 2015

Paula Knudsen, Director of Government Affairs/Legislative Counsel

The Commonwealth Court today issued an opinion in the case challenging the removal of Erik Arneson as executive director of the Office of Open Records (OOR). The majority of the court, in an opinion authored by Judge Patricia A. McCullough, ordered that Arneson be restored as Executive Director of the OOR with backpay and benefits. The majority also found that Governor Wolf exceeded his removal power under the state constitution in dismissing Arneson from the post.

President Judge Pellegrini authored a dissenting opinion, joined by Judge McGinley and Judge Leadbetter.

PNA filed a “friend of the court” brief arguing that the intention of the legislature in 2008 when changing the law was to create an independent office. Today's ruling supports that interpretation.

Erik Arneson was appointed Executive Director of the OOR on January 9, 2015 by then-Governor Tom Corbett. Arneson’s appointment followed the resignation of the OOR’s first executive director, Terry Mutchler. Mutchler is now in private practice at the law firm Pepper Hamilton. 

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