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D. Additional dispute resolution procedures

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  • Alabama

    The Public Records Law itself does not include any provision regarding enforcement of the Law, and Alabama has trailed other states in this area. Another section of the Alabama Code related to tampering with governmental records could be read to apply to violations of the Public Records Law:

    A person commits the crime of tampering with governmental records if;

    (1) He knowingly makes a false entry in or falsely alters any governmental record; or

    (2) Knowing he lacks the authority to do so, he intentionally destroys, mutilates, conceals, removes or otherwise substantially impairs the verity or availability of any governmental record; or

    (3) Knowing he lacks the authority to retain a governmental record he refuses to deliver up the record in his possession upon proper request of a person lawfully entitled to receive such record for examination or other purposes.

    Ala. Code § 13A-10-12(a) (1994). Violation of the tampering law is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. Ala. Code § 13A-10-12(b). Although this statute can be read to apply to public requests for governmental records, it is rarely used to prosecute violators of the Public Records Law. But see Deutcsh v. State, 610 So. 2d 1212 (Ala. Crim. App. 1992) (reversing former Chief of Police of City of Birmingham's conviction under Section 13A-10-12(a)(1) and (2) for tampering with jail docket book, jail computer database, fingerprint card, and fingerprint log to conceal arrest of daughter of Mayor of Birmingham and remanding case for further proceedings).

    The Public Records Law is primarily enforced through the filing of civil actions by citizens, the media and other interested parties.

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  • California

    Under the CPRA, "[a]ny person may institute proceedings for injunctive or declaratory relief or writ of mandate in any court of competent jurisdiction to enforce his or her right to inspect or to receive a copy of any public record or class of public records under this chapter." Cal. Gov't Code § 6258. The plain meaning of 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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