Thursday, January 02, 2014
Ind. Gov't. - When is the Public Access Law not the law?
Apparently when the Public Access Counselor so determines. From p. 2 of a Dec. 30th, 2013 response to Formal Complaint 13-FC-336; Alleged Violation of the Access to Public Records Act by the City of Logansport:
By its own admission, you are correct the City failed to respond to your request within 24-hours of your in-person service. Technically, this is a violation of the letter of the APRA law because it took nearly 2 hours longer to acknowledge your request.ILB: So if the statutory 24 hours does not really mean 24 hours, and 26 hours is close enough here, apparently, for government work, just when is the outer limit?
Similarly, I am confident traffic patrolmen on I-465 in Indianapolis regularly clock vehicles traveling 57 miles-per-hour in a 55 mile-per-hour speed zone. Indeed, this is a technical violation of the law, but rarely would such an infraction be enforced. If weather conditions were poor or if there were servicemen working on the roads near the infraction, I could postulate the offending speeder would be pulled over and perhaps given a citation. Likewise, if the information you have sought from the City was of immediate critical importance, I would also scrutinize the City’s actions more strictly. As it is, however, based on the information provided, I’m letting them off with a warning.
This is not to take lightly the crucial importance of disclosing public records in a timely fashion. In the same manner, I consider violations of the APRA to be especially detrimental to the public trust. But in this case I cannot consider the violation egregious. The Courts have spoken on similar Open Door Law issues and have used the term “substantial compliance”. While I refrain from adding that vernacular to APRA issues, this is as close as a public agency can come to being in substantial compliance with the law.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 2, 2014 04:35 PM
Posted to Indiana Government