Requesting Records and Access Appeals
A person wanting access to a record must give the governmental entity a written request containing his name, mailing address, daytime telephone number (if available), and a description of the record requested that identifies the record with reasonable specificity. Most agencies have written an administrative rule which states where and to whom requests for access should be directed.
When an agency receives a request for a record, it has ten business days to respond to that request. If the request is to benefit the public rather than the individual person (a circumstance primarily invoked by the media), then the agency has five business days in which to respond. If no response is given, the failure is considered a denial of access.
The response to a request can be one of several things:
- approval of the request by providing the record
- denying the request
- notifying the requestor that the record in question belongs to another entity
- notifying the requestor
that due to one or more of the following extraordinary circumstances,
the record is not immediately available:
- another governmental entity is using the record
- the record is being audited
- the request is for a voluminous quantity of records
- the governmental entity is currently processing a large number of records requests
- the request requires the entity to review a large number of records
- legal counsel must be sought by the entity before releasing the record
- classified information needs to be segregated from the record in question
- computer programming is required to segregate classified information
See UCA 63G-2-204(5) for time limits imposed on the extraordinary circumstances.
Appealing a Denial of Access
If a request for records is denied by the governmental entity, any person may appeal that decision to the chief administrative officer of that governmental entity by filing a notice of appeal within 30 days. Claims of extraordinary circumstances may also be appealed.
A notice of appeal must contain the following:
- petitioner's name
- mailing address
- daytime telephone number
- relief sought
The petitioner may file a short statement of facts, reasons, and legal authority in support of the appeal. The chief administrative officer then has five business days to respond to the appeal (or 12 business days if the request impacts business confidentiality claims). If the response is not timely, the appeal is considered denied.
The decision of the chief administrative officer must be sent by the governmental entity to all participants of the request. If the chief administrative officer affirms the denial in whole or in part, the denial must include the following:
- a statement that the requester has the right to appeal the denial to either the State Records Committee or district court
- time limits for filing an appeal
- name and business address of the executive secretary of the State Records Committee
Appealing to the State Records Committee
After an appeal has been denied by the chief administrative officer of the governmental entity, further appeal may be made to the State Records Committee by filing a notice of appeal with the executive secretary no later than 30 days after the chief administrative officer has granted or denied the records request, or 45 days after the original request under certain circumstances (see UCA 63G-2-403(1)(b)). The notice of appeal must contain the following:
- petitioner's name, mailing address, and daytime telephone number
- a copy of any denial of the records request
- the relief sought
The petitioner may file a short statement of facts, reasons, and legal authority in support of the appeal. Three business days after receiving notice of an appeal, the executive secretary of the State Records Committee will schedule a hearing date. Hearings are usually held the second Wednesday of the month.
At the hearing, the parties should be prepared to testify, present evidence, and comment on the issues. The State Records Committee may review the disputed records, and must do so if they are weighing interests.
The State Records Committee may, upon consideration and weighing of the various interests and public policies, order the disclosure of information properly classified as private, controlled, or protected if the pubic interest favoring access outweighs the interest favoring restriction of access.
The State Records Committee generally votes and issues the decision and order at the conclusion of the hearing. A signed paper copy is sent to both parties within a few days. Any decisions made by the State Records Committee may be appealed to district court within 30 days of the order.