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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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