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A. Who can request records?


  • Arizona

    (This section is blank. See the subpoints below.)

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  • Arkansas

    (This section is blank. See the subpoints below.)

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  • Connecticut

    FOIA provides that "every person shall have the right to (1) inspect [public] records promptly during regular office or business hours, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212." Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-210(a) (emphasis added).

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  • Delaware

    Any Delaware citizen and non-citizen may request records. 29 Del. C. § 10001. However, an agency may reject requests from non-citizens. See McBurney v. Young, 569 U.S. 221 (2013); see also Del. Op. Att’y Gen. 17-IB39, 2017 WL 3628776, at *1 (Aug. 16, 2017) (no FOIA violation where Office of the State Treasurer denied a FOIA request on the basis that the requesting party was not a citizen of Delaware); Del. Op. Att’y Gen. 17-IB14, 2017 WL 3426252, at *1 (July 6, 2017) (no FOIA violation where New Castle County denied a FOIA request on the basis that the requesting party was not a citizen of Delaware); Del. Op. Att’y Gen. 16-IB20, 2016 WL 5888776, at *1 (Sept. 30, 2016) (“Our determination is that public bodies are only required to comply with FOIA when the requesting party is a citizen of the State of Delaware. In all other cases, public bodies may, and are encouraged to, fulfill FOIA requests. Because compliance with Delaware’s FOIA is mandatory only with respect to citizens of the State of Delaware, we conclude that [the Office of the Delaware State Banking Commissioner] did not violate FOIA when it denied your . . . request for records on the basis that you are not a Delaware citizen.”).

    Custodian of records. FOIA places responsibility for providing or denying access to public records on the "custodian" of the records. See 29 Del. C. § 10003(a) ("all public records shall be open to inspection and copying . . . by the custodian of the records for the appropriate public body."). Delaware's FOIA, however, does not define the term "custodian."

    Importantly, a "public body" must actually receive a FOIA request in order to trigger any legal obligation to make the records available. Del. Op. Att'y Gen., No. 04-ib04 (Feb. 5, 2004) (noting that as a general rule, an attorney is not the custodian of records that may be in the possession of a client but concluding that by exercising authority both to release some records and claim exemptions for others on behalf of the producing party, the attorney became the custodian of records.). The burden of proof is on the custodian of records to justify the denial of access to records, 29 Del. C. § 10003(b) and (c), and the public body must establish rules and regulations regarding access to such records and the fees charged for copying such records.  29 Del. C. § 10003(d).

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  • Georgia

    Any person, firm, corporation or other entity may request records under the statute and sue to enforce compliance with its provisions. O.C.G.A. § 50-18-73(a).

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  • Iowa

    The act should be interpreted liberally and should provide broad access to public records. Rathmann, 580 N.W.2d at 777.

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  • Kentucky

    Under Kentucky’s Open Records Act, "[a]ll public records shall be open for inspection by any person, except as otherwise provided . . . and suitable facilities shall be made available by each public agency for the exercise of this right." Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.872(1).

    Kentucky law defines “person” to include “bodies-politic and corporate, societies, communities, the public generally, individuals, partnerships, joint stock companies, and limited liability companies.” Ky. Rev. Stat. 446.010(33).

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  • Maine

    Any person “has the right to inspect and copy any public record . . . .”  1 M.R.S.A. § 408-A.

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  • Maryland

    The Maryland Public Information Act ("PIA" or the "Act"), codified in the General Provisions Article of the Maryland Code Annotated (the "Code") entitles "all persons . . . to have access to information about the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees." Md. Code Ann., Gen. Prov. § 4-103(a). The term "person" is defined in § 1-114 of the Article to mean "an individual, receiver, trustee, guardian, personal representative, fiduciary, representative of any kind, corporation, partnership, business trust, statutory trust, limited liability corporation, firm, association,  or other nongovernmental entity." See also ACLU v. Leopold, 223 Md. App. 97, 121 (2015) (determining that a county was an entity within the definition of "person"). Governmental units are also specifically given the right to inspect public records. See §§ 10-611(b), 614(a).

    In general, there is no need for the person to show that he or she is aggrieved or a person in interest in order to exercise the right of inspection of most records. PIA Manual, at 2-1. There are, however, restrictions on who is entitled to inspect certain types of records. For example, retirement records may only be inspected by "the person in interest," or "the appointing authority of the individual"; after the individual's death, the records may be inspected only "by a beneficiary, personal representative, or any other person who satisfies the administrators of the retirement and pension systems that the person has a valid claim to the benefits of the individual"; by law enforcement agencies for specified purposes; and for retirement records for current or former employees of a county, by employees of that county when an audit of the records is required by county law. § 4-313(b). Similarly, personnel records and student records may only be inspected by the person in interest, or by an appointed or elected official who is that person's supervisor. §§ 4-311(b), 4-313(b). See also § 4-329(c) (person in interest entitled to inspect public record of person's medical and psychological information); § 4-336(c) (financial information may only be inspected by person in interest).

    If a "person in interest" has a legal disability, then that individual's parent or legal representative may act on the individual's behalf as a "person in interest." See PIA Manual, at 2-2 (citing § 4-101(g)(2)). However, a parent whose parental rights have been terminated with respect to a child may not act as "person in interest on the child's behalf." PIA Manual, at 2-2 (citing 90 Opinions of the Attorney General 45, 58-59 (2005)).

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  • Tennessee

    Any citizen of the state of Tennessee can request access to any records that are deemed to be records of public bodies. In 1998, the Supreme Court overturned earlier case law and held that a convicted felon is still a citizen for purposes of being able to seek access to public records. Cole v. Campbell, 968 S.W.2d 274 (Tenn. 1998) (overturning Roberson v. Rose, 17 TAM 3-28 (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 31, 1991) and Ray v. Stanton, C.A. No. 88-285-II (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 24, 1989)); Corporations and other entities may be citizens of Tennessee for purposes of the Act. See Curve Elementary School Parent & Teachers Org. v. Lauderdale County Sch. Bd., 608 S.W.2d 855, 859-60 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1980) (granting standing to an unincorporated association of state residents to sue under Tennessee open meetings law, which requires state citizenship to bring suit); Metropolitan Air Research Testing Authority Inc. v. The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, 17 TAM 31-21 (Tenn. Ct. App. July 8, 1992) (standing granted to a Tennessee corporation to sue under the open meetings law). Cf. Huntsville Util. Dist. v. Gen. Trust Co., 839 S.W.2d 397 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1992) (holding that the T.C.A. §  10-7-504 term "members of the public" does not include the courts and public officials in the performance of official duties and therefore such officials have access to confidential records that are not available to "members of the public").

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  • Vermont

    “Any person may inspect or copy any public record of a public agency.”  1 V.S.A. § 316(a). There is no limitation on or definition of the term “person.” Neither the motivation of the requester nor her or his use of the information or documents creates any restrictions. Shlansky v. City of Burlington, 2010 VT 90, ¶ 11, 13 A.3d 1075, 1080-81 (Vt. 2010); Finberg v. Murnane, 159 Vt. 431, 437, 623 A.2d 979, 983 (Vt. 1992). However, if records are sought by a party for use in a pending or ongoing litigation, they will likely be exempt from disclosure as “relevant to litigation” under 1 V.S.A. § 317(c)(14). See Wesco Inc. v. Sorrell, 2004 VT 102, ¶ 17, 865 A.2d 350, 356 (Vt. 2004).

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  • West Virginia

    Any person or entity may obtain access to records through the Freedom of Information Act except state or federal inmates seeking information in support of a habeas corpus petition. The statute provides that "[e]very person has a right to inspect or copy any public record" and specifies the term "'[P]erson' includes any natural person, corporation, partnership, firm or association." W. Va. Code § 29B-1-2.

    In general, the requester's purpose does not affect her right to receive records under the Freedom of Information Act, and the statute places no restrictions on the subsequent use of information obtained. However, if the request is for "information of a personal nature such as that kept in a personal, medical or similar file," the requester must have a "legitimate interest" in order to obtain the information. Robinson v. Merritt, 180 W. Va. 26, 375 S.E.2d 204 (1988). In such cases, the purpose of the request is one factor in the balancing test used by the courts to determine whether access should be allowed. A court may impose restrictions on the subsequent use of any personal information that is released. Child Prot. Grp. v. Cline, 177 W. Va. at 32, 350 S.E.2d at 543. This issue is discussed later in this outline, under the section on Freedom of Information Act exemptions.

    In Hurlbert v. Matkovich, the court rejected a public body's contention that “because the Petitioners are not taxpayers, or residents of this State, the protections afforded by FOIA ... do not extend to them.” 233 W. Va. 583, 760 S.E.2d 152 (2014). The court emphatically stated that this assertion was "patently incorrect, as evidenced by the use of the term “person” and its commensurate definition contained in the statute." "In fact," the court observed, "the overwhelming majority of the states’ FOIA statutes have no such language restricting FOIA requests to their citizenry; only eight states restrict FOIA requests in such a manner."

    Moreover, in Hurlbert, the public body "insinuated (but did not expressly contend) that because petitioners operate a ‘commercial business’ for which the requested information will presumably be used,  ‘the reach of the FOIA statute’ perhaps does not extend to them." The court, also rejected this proposition, noting that "our FOIA statute contains absolutely no prohibition on requests which are for a primarily commercial purpose. In fact, this Court stated in that the interest in the information 'may be pecuniary.' " Child Prot. Grp. v. Cline, 177 W. Va. at 33, 350 S.E.2d at 544.

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  • Wyoming

    Any person has the right to request inspection of public records and to make copies of those records.  The courts have allowed media corporations and citizen associations to seek records.

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