Researcher records denied to U student

By By Arthur Raymond

By Arthur Raymond

The Utah State Records Committee denied an appeal Thursday by U student Katie Patterson to release records listing names of employees at the U’s Animal Resource Center.

The U has refused to release the names because legal representatives for the school say the safety of lab employees could be put at risk.

Patterson appeared before the committee with Jeremy Beckham. Both are members of Utah Primate Freedom, an animal rights group that has protested outside the homes of researchers who conduct experiments on animals. The U was represented by Phyllis Vetter, an attorney with the Office of General Counsel.

After the hearing, Beckham, president of Utah Primate Freedom, said the ruling “came as no surprise.” “I kind of knew that the U’s persuasive tactics of fear (might) be able to convince the committee (to exclude records access),” Beckham said. “We have a couple of attorneys that have agreed to represent us and I’m confident we will win on appeal.”

Vetter was unavailable for comment after the ruling Thursday.

Beckham — who spoke on behalf of Patterson, and Vetter — offered arguments based on interpretations of statutes specified in the Utah Governments Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA).

The committee discounted much of Vetter’s argument, but did side with the U on a GRAMA statute that cites disclosures which would “jeopardize the life or safety of an individual” as legitimate grounds for granting an exclusion to Patterson’s public records request.

Lennie Mahler

U representatives screen a video in which U student Jeremy Beckham and other Utah Primate Freedom members protest research with animals in front of the house of a researcher. Phyllis Vetter, an attorney for the U, argued that while legal, this form of protest is inappropriate.