SALT LAKE CITY - Utah Democrats will get documents from the state's redistricting process for free, a judge decided on Tuesday.
Democrats filed an open records request last year requesting all email and paper correspondence between legislators and the Republican party concerning the redistricting process back in 2011, but were asked to pay $15,000 to get them.
A judge decided on Tuesday that the Democrats won't have to pay for those documents and the state will pay the party $15,000 in legal fees. Party chairman Jim Dabakis say it's a victory for not only the Democrats but for the people of Utah.
"The documents are for all Utahns and they show what went on behind closed doors," Dabakis said. "It sends a good message. It sends a message that Utah Democrats were right, that the legislature was wrong trying to cover up what they were doing."
Dabakis said that because the redistricting process was done behind closed doors, Democrats wanted the paper trail to be released. Alleging that there was gerrymandering going on in the process, Democrats even threatened a lawsuit.
"We have gone over endless different possibilities about a gerrymandering lawsuit. Unfortunately the Supreme Court has put the level here and the morality level is here, and the Utah Republican party is here but it is doesn't rise to the level that we feel would be a successful lawsuit," Dabakis said.
The 16,000 pages of documents, mostly made up of emails and maps, have been on the redistricting website since November after FOX 13 put in a GRAMA request.