Pennsylvania

A. Authorization

Overview

Pennsylvania

5. Private matter on private e-mail

Private matter emails stored on a public employee’s private account do not constitute public records subject to disclosure under Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law.  See, e.g., In the Matter of Kenneth M. Silberstein, 2011 WL 31550 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2011)(a public official’s electronic communications do not fall within the definition of a “record” under Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law when the official has no authority to act on behalf of a governmental agency without its authorization).

C. Dockets

Overview

Pennsylvania

1. Who may sue? M4C01

Suit may be brought by “any person.” 65 Pa. Cons. Stat. §  715. This language was probably intended to allow suit on a showing of “taxpayer” or “citizen” interest; however, the language is broad enough to allow suits by persons who are neither citizens nor taxpayers of Pennsylvania. Traditional standing principles do not apply to the Sunshine Act; thus, proof of an injury or special interest is not required. Press-Enterprise, Inc. v. Benton Area Sch. Dist., 604 A.2d 1221 (Pa. Commw. Ct.

(2). To whom notice is given. M1E2B2

For special meetings, same as for regular meetings.

a. Which court?

The motion to quash should be filed with the court that issues the subpoena.

2. Does the law cover oral requests?

Agencies may, but are not required to, fulfill “verbal” (presumably meaning “oral”) and anonymous requests. Section 702. If the requester wants to pursue “the relief and remedies” provided by the Act, e.g., receive the required form of agency response and take an appeal from any denial of access, “the request for access to records must be a written request.” Id. While agencies may have the statutory discretion to accept oral requests, it appears that Commonwealth agencies under the control of the governor have been instructed to refuse oral requests.

K. On-line dissemination.

Many agencies make some of their records publicly available on-line in their own discretion and by statute.  However, the Act does not require on-line dissemination of public records.

B. Dockets

Overview

Pennsylvania