by Morgan True
VT Digger

BURLINGTON — Vermont’s former attorney general has been ordered to answer questions under oath about the possible existence of public records that the state says are confidential.

The legal decision Wednesday was a major victory for a nonprofit that is suing Vermont for records related to a probe of Exxon Mobil. The decision came hours after former Attorney General William Sorrell failed to show up for a scheduled deposition.

Washington County Superior Court Judge Mary Miles Teachout ruled against the Vermont Attorney General’s office, which is representing Sorrell. Teachout threw out the office’s motion to dismiss the case and another motion to quash a subpoena issued to Sorrell.

Teachout granted a motion from the nonprofit Energy & Environment Legal Institute to compel Sorrell to sit for a deposition. The case hinges on how far an exemption to the public records law known as attorney-client privilege can be extended and has serious implications for the public records law in Vermont.

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