Guilty plea but no remorse from former Boynton official for violating state Open Records Act

Former Boynton Clerk/Treasurer Pauline Osburn pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of violating the state’s Open Records Act, The Muskogee Phoenix reported today.

But the 73-year-old Osburn didn’t seem to understand that she was wrong to refuse town trustees access to the town's water records in May. She indicated to the judge she would likely do it again given the same circumstances, the newspaper reported.

Once officials had the records in hand, they learned the town had about $15,000 in the bank but more than $40,000 in debts. At the same time, the city was owed thousands of dollars for delinquent water bills. One resident owed more than $8,000, The Muskogee Phoenix reported.

On Monday, Osburn told the Muskogee District Court judge, “We had a bunch of people who had caused problems” – apparently referring to the other town officials who wanted to see the public records.

Osburn was given a one-year suspended sentence for each count. She must pay a $250 fine on each count, plus court costs and a monthly probation supervision fee of $40 per month. The Muskogee Phoenix reported the court costs were nearly $800 as of Monday morning.

Osburn faced a maximum sentence of one year in the county jail and a $500 fine for each of the two misdemeanors. (OKLA. STAT. tit. 51, § 24A.17(A))

A jury trial for Osburn had been scheduled for Oct. 26. She resigned in May.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Journalism

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.