2 thoughts on “Open Meeting Act

  1. I am a member of FOI and I have a question. I went down to the town of Fort Supply City Hall ( a town of 300 people) there was an Office Manager and City Clerk on duty, a very small office. I submitted a request to view about 10 pages of documents . I was told I would be called tomorrow to view the documents. I believe that this was done to make it difficult to view any documents, this is a very very small office , there was not any indication of them being too busy to provide the requested documents, how do I file a compalint with the attorney generals office?

    • The Attorney General’s Office doesn¹t prosecute violations of the Open Records Act. Any complaint should be filed with the police and district attorney’s office.

      Have the documents been provided to you for review?

      The Open Records Act doesn’t specify the time in which records must be provided. Instead, it says, “A public body must provide prompt, reasonable access to its records.” (Okla. Stat. tit. 51, § 24A.5(5))

      A 1999 Attorney General opinion said “prompt, reasonable access” generally means “only the time required to locate and compile” the public records. (1999 OK AG 58, ¶ 15 (relying upon Merrill v. Okla. Tax Comm¹n, 1992 OK 53, 831 P.2d 634))

      In the 1992 case relied upon by the attorney general, the state Supreme Court had examined the nature of the request, the number of records requested, the format sought for the copies, and the efforts necessary for the agency to compile those records when it determined whether a public body had provided “prompt, reasonable access.” (Merrill v. Okla. Tax
      Comm¹n, 1992 OK 53, 831 P.2d 634)

      The Attorney General opinion concluded: “There is no provision in the Open Records Act for a public body to ‘withhold’ records for any amount of time, however small. The duty to provide prompt and reasonable access is complied with only when a public body properly attends to its duty to provide a record.”

      However, in a training video for police, Edmondson acknowledged that the time in which agencies must respond “varies with the circumstances.”

      But he also distinguished between “a detailed request for records that’s going to require looking back over the past 12 months and pulling files that may already be in storage” and one for records “that are sitting right there on your desk and all you have to do is go to the copy machine.”

      “In most instances,” he said, “open records requests should be responded to on the spot.”

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