1. Attorney General's role.

The Attorney General over the years has issued hundreds of opinions interpreting the FOIA. These are advisory opinions, not binding on Arkansas courts.  As a practical matter, Arkansas courts frequently cite to Attorney General opinions when reaching FOIA decisions.  The Attorney General is authorized by statute to render legal opinions at the request of certain public officials, including members of the General Assembly, all state boards and commissions, the heads of executive departments, and prosecuting attorneys. Ark. Code Ann. § 25-16-706. Furthermore, the FOIA itself provides for Attorney General opinions in cases involving personnel and job evaluation records: “Either the custodian, requester, or the subject of the records may immediately seek an opinion from the Attorney General, who, within three (3) working days of receipt of the request, shall issue an opinion stating whether the decision is consistent with this chapter. In the event of a review by the Attorney General, the custodian shall not disclose the records until the Attorney General has issued his opinion.” Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-105(c)(3)(B).

The Attorney General also has a power of enforcement in case of FOIA non-compliance. The courts have regarded the Attorney General as a “citizen” entitled to employ the FOIA. Bryant v. Weiss, 335 Ark. 534, 983 S.W.2d 902 (1998). Thus the Attorney General may file a repeat request denied to another citizen, and if the request is again denied, the Attorney General may bring a civil suit under the FOIA, effectively standing in the shoes of the original requester.