Blog

Lesson #5: Requesting Emails

TL;DR: FOIA requests for emails are among the most common, but can be a shot in the dark. Instead, requesting email metadata can ensure you find what you're looking for. In FOIA Lesson #4, we learned about the importance of flexing your rights by appealing unfavorable determinations. I shared an anecdote about one time that … Continue reading Lesson #5: Requesting Emails

Using FOIA for Lawsuits

There are many uses for FOIA. As I've mentioned before, almost anyone could benefit from obtaining public records. Activists, journalists, concerned citizens can use FOIA to prove wrongdoing, develop a story, or just learn more about their community. But one important use for FOIA is lawsuits. In fact, one of the reasons I started this … Continue reading Using FOIA for Lawsuits

Lesson #4: Don’t Be Afraid to Appeal

TL;DR: The appeal process is a lot less intimidating -- and more effective -- than you may think. You should use it regularly when you don't get what you are looking for. In FOIA Lesson #3, I described the importance of being nice when filing your request, and giving records officers the benefit of the … Continue reading Lesson #4: Don’t Be Afraid to Appeal

Filing Your First FOIA

OK, so you've been reading about FOIA for some time; you've lurked on social media and read some articles on MuckRock; you've shed your crippling anxiety over losing your FOIA virginity; and you might know what it is you'd like to request. Maybe you've even hired me to file one for you and, feeling so … Continue reading Filing Your First FOIA

Lesson #3: Be Nice!

TL;DR: Be cordial, assert your rights only when necessary, and give them the benefit of the doubt until they no longer deserve it.   In FOIA Lesson #2, I described the importance of being as specific as you can in your request for the purpose of easing the amount of work -- and therefore reducing … Continue reading Lesson #3: Be Nice!

Lesson #2: Be Specific, But Not Too Specific

TL;DR: Tailor your request to save work for the records officer -- and save costs -- but being too specific could backfire. Following up on FOIA Lesson #1, in which I described the first lesson I learned since beginning my FOIA journey -- seek out a central repository for the information you are seeking, rather … Continue reading Lesson #2: Be Specific, But Not Too Specific

Lesson #1: My First FOIA & What I Learned From It

This is the first in a series of blog posts on lessons learned since I began my FOIA journey.   TL;DR: Go straight to the source. Learn if there is an agency that serves as a central repository for the information you are seeking, and send the request to them. I first became enthralled by … Continue reading Lesson #1: My First FOIA & What I Learned From It