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January 10. 2013 2:54PM

Judge sides with liquor commission on right-to-know request

CONCORD - A judge has denied a right-to-know petition filed by Law Warehouses of Nashua against the N.H. Liquor Commission.

The petition was filed Dec. 6, weeks after the commission awarded a 20-year contract worth an estimated $200 million to Ohio-based Exel Inc., a subsidiary of the German company Deutsche Post DHL. Law Warehouses, which had held the contract since the early 1990s, demanded to see the full contract between the state and Exel, with no material blacked out or "redacted," as well as the scoring sheet used in the commission's decision-making process.

In his ruling, dated Jan. 8, Richard B. McNamara, presiding justice at Merrimack County Superior Court, wrote, "Law has produced no authority for the proposition that when a bidder is awarded a contract, its otherwise confidential information becomes public as a matter of law. Its position cannot be accepted."

McNamara left open the possibility that Law could seek a closed-door review of the redacted material by a judge. Attorneys for the state and Exel would have to identify each document withheld, state the statutory exemption claimed, and explain how disclosure would damage protected interests.