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  1. Don't know about the rest, but around here when we FOIA something an agency denies it that's the end of it.
    We don't have the financial resources for a legal fight to get the information.

    My question: Could newspapers or reporters fight a FOIA refusal in Magistrate or small claims court?
    I recall the woman (who's a lawyer) avoiding a class action suit against Honda and taking it instead to small claims court, over what amounted to false claims.
    Totally different issue, I realize, but could it be done? Or even tried?
  2. Maybe try your state's press association? A lot of times those groups will have an attorney who can at least give you some thoughts (at no charge) and sometimes even litigate.

    Although if the agency in question is violating the law, sometimes all it takes is a stern letter from an attorney.
  3. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    It wouldn't be a small claims issue, because those are monetary harm cases.

    You don't have to go to court to appeal an FOIA denial. You shouldn't just give up on the first denial. It's as simple as writing a letter to the head of the body that rejected your request and including the word appeal in the letter. Give the reasons why the denial should be overturned and enclose your original request.

    If that doesn't work, then yeah, you have to go to court, and yeah, there are filing fess, attorney fees, court costs.

    The Knight FOI Fund helps with finances, but you have to be a big case and they pick and choose sparingly: http://www.nfoic.org/knight-foi-fund
  4. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    Definitely contact your state press association for clarification, assistance and possible advice on financial help for a legal battle.

    Obtaining public records shouldn't be so damn difficult.
  5. We have had several fights over 911 calls.

    The PA denies the FOIAs citing the tapes as "part of an on-going investigation."
    Period. End of story.

    We also getting the same thing from BOE ... They go into executive session for a "personnel issue" on an almost bi-weekly basis. It's gotten to the point they move to go into exec. session, look to our reporter to voice his objection, and then go on ahead.

    The WVPA? No offense, but Ha.
    Outside of handling the annual newspaper contest, which is more often screwed up than not, they are tied up.
    Speaking for the WVPA they recently had a vacancy, that included a salary and a benefits package.

    No one of these issues are a big deal. But collectively, I think it's a problem. And because of it the FOIA's are losing their bite.

    As for monetary claims: The PA is withholding info that is affecting the paper's sales because our story isn't as good as it could be?
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