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
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
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
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!
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