The local state attorney has the statutory authority to prosecute alleged criminal violations of the open meetings and public records law. Certain civil remedies are also available.
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The Florida Supreme Court has determined that public records are all materials made or received by an agency in connection with official business which are used to perpetuate, communicate or formalize knowledge. They are not limited to traditional written documents. Also considered public records subject to inspection unless a statutory exemption exists are the following:
Nothing in the public records law requires that a request for public records be in writing or in person, although individuals may wish to make their request in writing to ensure they have an accurate record of what they requested. Unless otherwise exempted, a custodian of public records must honor a request for records, whether it is made in person, over the telephone, or in writing, provided the required fees are paid.
Nothing in the law requires the requester to disclose the reason for the request.
The law provides that the custodian shall furnish a copy of public records upon payment of the fee prescribed by law. If no fee is prescribed, an agency is normally allowed to charge up to 15 cents per one-sided copy for copies that are 14 inches by 8.5 inches or less. A charge of up to $1 per copy may be assessed for certified copy of a public record. If the nature of volume of the records to be copied requires extensive clerical or supervisory assistance, or both, the City Clerks office may charge a reasonable service charge based on the actual cost incurred.
A custodian of a public record who contends that the record or part of a record is exempt from inspection must state the basis for that exemption, including the statutory citation. Additionally, when asked, the custodian must state in writing the reasons for concluding the record is exempt.
As soon as a document is received by the City of Key West, it becomes a public record, unless there is a legislatively created exemption which makes it confidential and not subject to disclosure.
The rule on personnel records is the same as for other public documents unless the Legislature has specifically exempted an agency’s personnel records or authorized the agency to adopt rules limiting public access to the records, personnel records are open to public inspection. There are, however, numerous statutory exemptions that apply to personnel records.
No. To allow the maker or sender of documents to dictate the circumstances under which documents are deemed confidential would permit private parties instead of the Legislature to determine which public records are public and which are not.
Arrest reports prepared by a law enforcement agency after the arrest of a subject are generally considered to be open for public inspection. At the same time, however, certain information such as the identity of a sexual battery victim is exempt.
The Sunshine Amendment was added to Florida’s Constitution in 1976 and provides for full and public disclosure of the financial interests of all public officers, candidates and employees. The Sunshine Law provides for open meetings for governmental boards.