In today’s episode Chuck explains how you can sue for public records when you aren’t able to get them through a public records request.
So Chuck, I’ve been trying to get public records from a governmental organization for a couple of years and they just wont give them to me. Every time they have some excuse. Is that something that can be dealt with without costing a whole ton of money?
Well, you’re going to have to bring a lawsuit against that state entity to enforce that public records request. If you are successful and there isn’t some national security reason or an invasion of privacy, I can’t think of a reason for that, you will get your attorney’s fees awarded to you.
In other words, you sue them, you win, and they have to pay for your lawyer.
Hypothetically speaking a Phoenix Police car with a police officer driving it rear-ends you on your motorcycle and you fall down and you get hurt. Now you’re trying to get the reports where it has been investigated by another law enforcement agency like MCSO or Mesa PD or something. You know there is a report out there but someone is keeping you from getting it so you can serve your notice of claim on Phoenix PD; to get all of the information you need to properly serve it. But you can’t get that information from public records because they are blocking you.
First of all, if that is the case, your notice of claim does not run for 180 from the time of the incident, it runs for 180 from when you get that information. I think that is a pretty sound argument. Then once you get that information because the state entity (Phoenix PD, let’s say) has been ordered to turn it over, then the time starts running. You can identity the participants in that accident.
A lot of people call and say hey, it’s been longer than six months but I haven’t been able to find a police report on this incident, a wrongful shooting, or personal injury claim, whatever it may be. You need to bring that lawsuit pretty fast, to get the judge to order that they release that information and then go from there.
So I hope that answers your question.