Best Lawblog Contest for 2017 now being conducted by The Legal Institute

From now until
September 15th, 2017, Lawblog fans can nominate their favorite blogs and bloggers for inclusion in the voting round of 2017. As in previous years, the nomination process is competitive, meaning the more nominations a blog receives, the more likely it is to be included in the public voting stage of the contest.

To access the link to the nomination form, click on:

https://www.theexpertinstitute.com/blog-contest/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=CTA&utm_campaign=blog-contest-8.14.2017-general

Monday, October 07, 2013

Disclosure of public records pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law


Disclosure of public records pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law
Cook v Nassau County Police Dept., 2013 NY Slip Op 06364, Appellate Division, Second Department

An individual submitted a Freedom of Information [FOIL] request for certain “records” that were held in the police department’s files. The custodian of the records declined to disclose certain documents sought by the individual.

The individual filed a petition pursuant to CPLR Article 78 seeking those records that had been withheld and Supreme Court ruled that some of the records sought by the individual were to be disclosed and others could be withheld by the custodian of the records.

The individual appealed that branch of his petition that Supreme Court denied while the police department cross-appeal from so much of the same judgment, that, in effect, granted those branches of the petition which were to direct it to disclose certain letters, redacted email messages, and a redacted one-page record from an internal affairs investigation.

The Appellate Division affirmed the Supreme Court’s decision, noting that “The Freedom of Information Law … was enacted "to promote open government and public accountability" and "imposes a broad duty on government to make its records available to the public," citing Gould v New York City Police Dept., 89 NY2d 267.

The court explained that FOIL provides that government records are presumptively open for public inspection unless they fall within one of the exceptions specified by Public Officers Law §87(2), which permits an agency to deny access to records which "are specifically exempted from disclosure by state or federal statute."

One such statute, said the Appellate Division, exempting records from disclosure is Civil Rights Law §50-a(1),*which provides, in relevant part, that "[a]ll personnel records used to evaluate performance toward continued employment or promotion" of police officers "shall be considered confidential and not subject to inspection or review." However, "when access to an officer's personnel records relevant to promotion or continued employment is sought under FOIL, nondisclosure will be limited to the extent reasonably necessary to effectuate the purposes of Civil Rights Law §50-a to prevent the potential use of information in the records in litigation to degrade, embarrass, harass or impeach the integrity of the officer."

In this instance the court found that Supreme Court properly determined, after an in camera inspection,**that the only portion of an internal affairs investigation report which should be disclosed pursuant to FOIL was a redacted one-page "Citizen Complaint Summary."

The Appellate Division rejected the police department’s argument that that the redacted "Citizen Complaint Summary" also should have been shielded from disclosure pursuant to Civil Rights Law §50-a(1). That portion of the internal investigation report, as redacted, said the court, does not "contain any invidious implications capable facially of harassment or degradation of the officer in a courtroom."

* Other public records, the release of which is limited by statute, include Education Law, §1127 - Confidentiality of records and  §33.13, Mental Hygiene Law - Clinical records; confidentiality].

**  A legal proceeding is in camera when a hearing is held before the judge in his or her private chambers or when the public is excluded from the proceeding.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
.

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

Caution:

Subsequent court and administrative rulings, or changes to laws, rules and regulations may have modified or clarified or vacated or reversed the decisions summarized here. Accordingly, these summaries should be Shepardized® or otherwise checked to make certain that the most recent information is being considered by the reader.

THE MATERIAL ON THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. CHANGES IN LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND NEW COURT AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS MAY AFFECT THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS LAWBLOG. THE MATERIAL PRESENTED IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND THE USE OF ANY MATERIAL POSTED ON THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.

Consistent with the Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations, the material in this blog is presented with the understanding that the publisher is not providing legal advice to the reader and in the event legal or other expert assistance is needed, the reader should seek such advice from a competent professional.

Items published in NYPPL may not be used for commercial purposes without prior written permission to copy and distribute such material. Send your request via e-mail to publications@nycap.rr.com

Copyright© 1987 - 2017 by the Public Employment Law Press.



___________________



N.B. From time to time a political ad or endorsement may appear in the sidebar of this Blog. NYPPL does not have any control over such posting.

_____________________

.