Broad, vague or burdensome requests may trigger certain of the Act’s fee provisions. As amended in 2012, the Act now provides that, “In any instance in which an agency will seek costs in excess of $25.00 for responding to a request, the agency shall notify the requester within a reasonable amount of time not to exceed three business days and inform the requester of the estimate of the costs, and the agency may defer search and retrieval of the records until the requester agrees to pay the estimated costs unless the requester has stated in his or her request a willingness to pay an amount that exceeds the search and retrieval costs.” O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71(d).
The Act further provides that, “In any instance in which the estimated costs for production of the records exceeds $500.00, an agency may insist on prepayment of the costs prior to beginning search, retrieval, review, or production of the records.” Id.
If the cost of a past request has not been paid, “an agency may require prepayment for compliance with all future requests for production of records from that person until the costs for the prior production of records have been paid or the dispute regarding payment resolved. Id.
“The custodian may refuse to provide access to a public record, or to permit inspection, if a request places an unreasonable burden in producing public records or if the custodian has reason to believe that repeated requests are intended to disrupt other essential functions of the public agency. However, refusal under this subsection must be sustained by preponderance of the evidence.”
NMSA 1978, Section 14-2-8(c) requires that any person making a request for public records identify the records sought with reasonable particularity. Courts have interpreted reasonable particularity. The Attorney General’s IPRA Guide (“Guide”) specifies that “reasonable particularity” does not require that a person identify the exact record sought. See Hector Balderas, IPRA Guide 33 (8th ed. 2015). Instead, it requires that the description provided be sufficient to “enable the custodian to identify and find the requested record.” Id.
NMSA 1978, Section 14-2-10 provides: “If a custodian determines that a written request is excessively burdensome or broad, an additional reasonable period of time shall be allowed to comply with the request. The custodian shall provide written notification to the requester within fifteen days of receipt of the request that additional time will be needed to respond to the written request. The requester may deem the request denied and may pursue the remedies available pursuant to the Inspection of Public Records Act if the custodian does not permit the records to be inspected in a reasonable period of time.”