A Superior Court judge ruled Friday that Clark County violated the state’s public records act and must pay $15,750 in penalties for mishandling a dispute with former Councilor David Madore over the release of messages from his private cellphone.The ruling from Judge Daniel Stahnke stems from a lawsuit filed last year by Community Planning Director Oliver Orjiako that alleged that the county didn’t adequately respond to his public records request for texts from Madore’s cellphone related to county business. The lawsuit, which was related to harassment and whistleblower complaints Orjiako filed against Madore, cited Nissen v. Pierce County, a 2015 state Supreme Court decision that determined that communications generated on elected officials’ personal devices are public records if they pertain to public business. Much of the case hinged on the question of whether an elected official’s actions regarding the release of the records should be considered separate from the government agency they are in charge of. Bill Richardson, deputy prosecuting attorney, argued in court that the county did “everything it reasonably could” to get the records, as well as an affidavit from Madore affirming he had complied with the request. Richardson cited case law that he said demonstrated that Madore’s actions should be considered separate from the county. Saying that the case broke “new ground,” he noted how the councilor, who lost in a re-election bid last year, frequently stated that he acted on behalf of the public, not the county.