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D. Additional dispute resolution procedures


  • Alabama

    The Public Records Law itself does not include any dispute resolution procedures.

    The Public Records Law is primarily enforced through the filing of civil actions by citizens, the media and other interested parties. Disputes over access over public records can be resolved through negotiations and mediation (mutually agreed-upon or court ordered).  There are no provisions for arbitrating public records disputes.

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  • California

    Under the CPRA, "[a]ny person may institute a proceeding for injunctive or declaratory relief, or for a writ of mandate, in any court of competent jurisdiction, to enforce that person’s right to inspect or receive a copy of any public record or class of public records." Cal. Gov't Code § 7923.000.

    This provision "contemplates a declaratory relief proceeding commenced only by an individual or entity seeking disclosure of public records, and not by the public agency from which disclosure is sought." Filarsky v. Superior Court, 28 Cal. 4th 419, 426, 121 Cal. Rptr. 2d 844, 49 P.3d 194 (2002) (city may not initiate ordinary declaratory relief action to determine its obligation to disclose records to a member of the public as CPRA provides exclusive means for litigating question of whether records must be disclosed).

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  • District of Columbia

    All employees of the District government are responsible for compliance with the provisions of the D.C. Act. D.C. Code Ann. § 2-537(e). Each public body also must designate a Freedom of Information Officer who is to receive a minimum of 8 hours of training regarding implementation and compliance with the D.C. Act. Id. § 2-538(d). Each year, the Mayor requests from each public body and submits to the D.C. Council a report covering the public record disclosure activities of each public body during the preceding fiscal year. Id. § 2-538(a).

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  • Florida

    Effective July 1, 2021, Florida Statute § 119.07(9) prohibits a state agency from filing a declaratory action in response to a public records request to determine the application of an exemption or whether a record is in fact a public record subject to the Public Records Law.

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  • Hawaii

    The UIPA requires government agencies to promulgate rules and regulations to implement the law. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-18. Its passage also funded the Office of Information Practice (OIP).

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  • Illinois

    The Act provides that “any person” may request records. 5 ILCS 140/3(a). Any person denied access to inspect or copy any public record by a public body may file suit for injunctive or declaratory relief. 5 ILCS 140/11(a).

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  • Iowa

    The rights and remedies provided by this section are in addition to any rights and remedies provided by § 17A.19. Any aggrieved person, any taxpayer to or citizen of the state of Iowa, or the attorney general or any county attorney, may seek judicial enforcement of the requirements of this chapter in an action brought against the lawful custodian and any other persons who would be appropriate defendants under the circumstances. Iowa Code § 22.10(1). Suits to enforce Chapter 22 shall be brought in the district court for the county in which the lawful custodian has its principal place of business. Id.

    "The provisions of this chapter and all rights of persons under this chapter may be enforced by mandamus or injunction, whether or not any other remedy is also available. In the alternative, rights under this chapter also may be enforced by an action for judicial review according to the provisions of the Iowa administrative procedure Act, chapter 17A, if the records involved are records of an "agency" as defined in that Act." Iowa Code § 22.5.

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  • Kansas

    Any person can bring suit. The state trial court has jurisdiction. K.S.A. 45-222.

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  • Kentucky

    Aside from any individual agency internal policy, the Kentucky Attorney General and the Circuit Courts enforce the Kentucky Open Records Act via an appeals process that becomes available when an agency denies a records request or the public agency circumvents the purpose of the Act. See Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.880, 61.882.

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  • Louisiana

    The district court for the parish in which the office of the custodian sits. The court has jurisdiction to enjoin the custodian from withholding records or to issue a writ of mandamus ordering the production of any records improperly withheld from the requester. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 44:35(B). A requester may institute proceedings for the issuance of a writ of mandamus, injunctive or declaratory relief after being denied the right to inspect or copy records by a final determination in writing by the custodian or the passage of five days from the date of the request, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public holidays. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 44:35(A).

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  • Maine

    The Attorney General or any District Attorney may enforce the Act, as well as any private requester of records.  A willful violation of the Act is subject to a fine, which may only be sought by the State.  1 M.R.S.A. § 410; see Cook v. Lisbon School Cmte, 682 A.2d 672, 680 (Me. 1996) (“only the Attorney General or his representative may enforce the Freedom of Access Act by seeking imposition of a fine pursuant to section 410”). Fines are tiered for repeated violations within a 4-year period: $500 for a first violation, a fine up to $1000 for a second violation, and a fine up to $2,000 for each additional violation. 1 M.R.S.A. § 410(2).

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  • Massachusetts

    The Supervisor of Public Records may order a custodian to comply with a person's request or to reduce its fee, but the Supervisor has no enforcement power. If the custodian refuses to comply, all the Supervisor can do is issue a public opinion and notify the Attorney General or appropriate District Attorney. G.L. c. 66, § 10(b), 950 CMR 32.09. Alternatively, if the requester chooses to take the time and expense of going to court, and if the requester prevails, then the Superior Court or Supreme Judicial Court can order compliance. G.L. c. 66, § 10(b). But the prevailing plaintiff will not be able to recover attorney fees or sanctions.

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  • Michigan

    The requesting person is the only party which may bring an action under the FOIA. See Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 15.240(1)(b) (the requesting party may commence an action in the court of claims to compel the public body's disclosure of the public records within 180 days after a public body's final determination to deny a request).

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  • Mississippi

    The Act may be enforced either through the Mississippi Ethics Commission or through a lawsuit filed in chancery court.

    In seeking relief through the Mississippi Ethics Commission, a complaint form is available at:$FILE/Public%20Records%20Complaint%20Form.pdf?OpenElement

    In court, suit must be filed in the chancery court of the county in which the public body sits. § 25-61-13. Proceedings take precedence over all other matters on the court docket. § 25-61-13.

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  • New Jersey

    A person who is denied access to a government record, at the option of the requestor, may institute a proceeding to challenge the custodian's decision by filing an action in Superior Court or file a complaint with the Government Records Council established pursuant to OPRA. N.J.S.A. 47:1A-6.

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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-011, ¶¶ 29-36, 150 N.M. 64, 257 P.3d 884.

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  • Oklahoma

    There are no other formal dispute resolution procedures. Consider negotiating with the public official or public body (narrowing request, requesting to inspect records vs. copy records, etc.).

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  • Vermont

    The State appears to rely on the press and private citizens for enforcement of the Public Records Act under 1 V.S.A. § 319(a). To date, there have been no enforcement actions brought by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office.  There is no state ombudsman.  However, the Vermont Legislature recently considered a measure that would create an independent ombudsman position that would be charged with reviewing records that have been blocked from release to determine whether state agencies are adequately protecting the public’s right to know.

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  • Washington

    The Public Records Act is generally enforced through private litigation. Any person who has been refused to allow inspection or copying of public records may demand judicial review through a civil lawsuit. RCW 42.56.550. Likewise, any person who believes that an agency has not provided a reasonable estimate of time that the agency requires to respond to a public records request may seek judicial review. Id. Alternatively, 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 the agency, but may be persuasive.

    An agency, or a third party named in or referred to in a record, is entitled to seek a court order enjoining the inspection of a public record. RCW 42.56.540; Dawson v. Daly, 120 Wn.2d 782, 845 P.2d 995 (1993). To obtain such an order, the agency or third party must establish not only that a specific exemption applies, but also that disclosure (1) clearly would not be in the public interest, and (2) would substantially and irreparably damage a person or a vital government interest. RCW 42.56.540; Lyft, Inc. v. City of Seattle, 190 Wn.2d 769, 773, 418 P.3d 102, 104 (2018).

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