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1. Attorney General


  • Alabama

    The Public Records Law does not give the attorney general a specific role in the enforcement of the act; however, the attorney general could prosecute violators of the Public Records Law under the statute regarding tampering with governmental records discussed above.

    As should be clear, the attorney general does have the power to issue advisory opinions when specific questions are raised regarding the proper interpretation of the Public Records Law.  See, e.g., Op. Att'y Gen. Ala. No. 2007-067, 2007 Ala. AG LEXIS 40 (Apr. 3, 2007; 212 Op. Att'y Gen. Ala. 26 (Aug. 1, 1988); 208 Op. Att'y Gen. Ala. 28 (Sept. 2, 1987).

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  • California

    The CPRA does not appear to permit the California Attorney General to initiate enforcement proceedings against a public agency to disclose public records unless the Attorney General has been denied access to public records.

    County district attorneys may petition a court to require a state or local agency to allow them to inspect or receive copies of public records not otherwise exempt from disclosure when the agency fails to allow inspection or copying within 10 working days of a request. Cal. Gov’t Code § 6264.

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  • Delaware

    By petition of a citizen denied access to information, the Attorney General can determine whether a violation has occurred. 29 Del. C. § 10005(e).

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  • District of Columbia

    The Corporation Counsel must submit an annual report listing the number of cases which arose under the D.C. Act in the previous fiscal year, the exemption involved, disposition, and costs assessed in each case. D.C. Code Ann. § 2-538(c).

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  • Florida

    The Florida Legislature has created a Voluntary Mediation Program within the Attorney General’s Office to mediate disputes involving access to public records. See Fla. Stat. § 16.60 (2012). The Attorney General’s Office is required to employ mediators to mediate such disputes, recommend to the Legislature needed legislating regarding access to public records, and assist the Department of State in preparing training seminars record public records access. See Fla. Stat. § 16.60(3).

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  • Georgia

    The Attorney General has specific statutory authority to bring actions against persons or agencies having custody of public records “as may be appropriate” to enforce compliance with the Act and to seek either civil or criminal penalties or both. O.C.G.A. § 50-18-73(a).

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  • Hawaii

    Not specified.

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  • Illinois

    The Public Access Counselor established in the Office of the Illinois Attorney General has jurisdiction to resolve and mediate FOIA disputes. See 5 ILCS 140/9.5. A public body that asserts that records are exempt under 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(c) and 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(f), must, within the time periods provided for responding to a request, provide written notice to the requester and the Public Access Counselor of its intent to deny the request in whole or in part. 5 ILCS 140/9.5. The Public Access Counselor will, then, decide whether those exemptions are properly invoked. Id. The Public Access Counselor may also issue binding opinions, which are considered final decisions of an administrative agency, for purposes of administrative review under the Administrative Review Law. 5 ILCS 140/11.5. The binding decisions of the PAC can be found on the Attorney General’s website.

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  • Iowa

    The attorney general has statutory authority to seek judicial enforcement.

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  • Kansas

    In investigating alleged violations, the Attorney General or county/district attorney may subpoena witnesses, investigate, etc. K.S.A. 45-228.

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  • Kentucky

    If, after making a written request and waiting the required five (5) business days for a response, the public agency either denies the request or fails to respond, the requester may ask the Attorney General to review the matter. Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.880(1)-(2). The requester must forward the Attorney General a copy of the written request and a copy of the agency's denial. Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.880(2).

    The Attorney General will also review a request when the requester feels the intent of the Act is "being subverted by an agency short of denial of inspection, including but not limited to the imposition of excessive fees or the misdirection of the applicant." Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.880(4).

    The Attorney General may request to inspect the disputed records in camera as part of the appeal processKy. Rev. Stat. 61.880(2)(c). The Attorney General is required to render a decision within twenty (20) business days, unless an extension of time up to an additional thirty (30) business days. Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.880(2)(a) & (b).

    If either party is unsatisfied with the Attorney General's decision, the party may file an appeal with the Circuit Court within 30 days from the date of the Attorney General's decision. Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.880(5)(a). A timely appeal will be reviewed de novo and treated as if it had been brought in Circuit Court pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.882. If not timely appealed, the Attorney General's decision has the force of law and may be enforced by the Circuit Court. Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.880(5)(b).

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  • Louisiana

    The Attorney General has no enforcement role.  His only role is to “establish a program for educating the general public, public bodies, and custodians regarding the provisions of” the Public Records Act, which “may include brochures, pamphlets, videos, seminars, and Internet access to information which provides training on the provisions of this Chapter, including the custodian's responsibilities in connection with a request for records and the right of a person to institute court proceedings if access to a record is denied by the custodian.”  La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 44:31.2.

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  • Maryland

    The Office of the Attorney General also periodically issues advisory opinions regarding compliance with the PIA. See PIA Manual and for opinions cited therein.

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  • Massachusetts

    The Supervisor of Public Records may notify the Attorney General of a case of noncompliance. G.L. c. 66, § 10(b), 950 CMR 32.09. However, the Attorney General has no obligation to act. Rather, the office decides on a case-by-case basis whether to take action and, if it does, what measures it deems necessary to ensure compliance. The Attorney General does not have authority to request oversight of a public records request.

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  • Michigan

    The Attorney General plays no role in the enforcement of the FOIA.

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  • Mississippi

    The Act does not specifically address the role of the Attorney General.

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  • New Jersey

    None other than acting as attorney to the Government Records Council.

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  • New Mexico

    The Attorney General or District Attorney in the jurisdiction has authority to enforce the Inspection of Public Records Act.  NMSA 1978 § 14-2-12(A)(1) (1993).  Any person whose request has been denied may enforce the Act.  § 14-2-12(A)(2) (1993).  A previously unnamed principal may enforce Inspection of Public Records Act, either directly in its own name or through its agent.  San Juan Agric. Water Users Ass'n v. KNME-TV, 2011-NMSC-11, ¶¶ 29-36, 150 N.M. 64, 257 P.3d 884.

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  • Oklahoma

    The Attorney General is not directly involved in criminal or civil enforcement of the Act. The Attorney General will issue opinions on specific questions concerning the application of the Act. Covered agencies must act consistent with these opinions.

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  • Oregon

    The Attorney General’s role in enforcing the Public Records Law varies depending upon the circumstance. A person challenging the denial of a records request to a state agency (but not an elected official) can seek review from the Attorney General. ORS 192.411(1) (formerly ORS 192.450). If the Attorney General determines that the requested records should not be disclosed and the requestor seeks judicial review of that determination, the Attorney General will serve as counsel for the state agency. ORS 192.411(3).

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  • Vermont

    To date, there have been no enforcement actions brought by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office.

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  • Virginia

    The Attorney General has no special role in enforcement of the Act.  The Office of the Attorney General typically appears in the defense of state public bodies charged with violations of the Act.

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  • Washington

    If a state agency denies a person an opportunity to inspect or copy a public record, the individual may request the attorney general’s office to review the matter and provide a written opinion. RCW 42.56.530. Such opinions are not binding on an agency or a court but may be persuasive.

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  • Wisconsin

    “Any person can request advice from the attorney general as to the applicability of [the records act] under any circumstances.” Wis. Stat. § 19.39. The attorney general has enforcement authority under Wis. Stat. § 19.37(1)(b), along with the district attorney for the county where the record is found, upon written request by the requester. However, this authority is rarely exercised because the Open Records law authorizes requesters to bring their own enforcement actions under Wis. Stat. § 19.37(1)(a) and recover damages, reasonable attorney’s fees and actual costs if they prevail in whole or in substantial part under Wis. Stat. § 19.37(2)(a).

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