BY FACSIMILE & FIRST CLASS MAIL
Ms. Debby Thomas
Office of the State Attorney
RE: Public Records Request of
Dear Ms. Thomas:
“Based on your prior request which was much less in scope, we anticipate the cost [of production of your public records request] to exceed $10,000.00.”
You also request a deposit of $5,000.00 before beginning work on any production of records.
Legal Foundation (“Landmark”) has reviewed its previously submitted public
records requests and has concluded that your office is attempting to avoid its
statutory obligations by gouging Landmark and discouraging any further
production requests. Your
you to the case Carden v. Chief of Police, City of Clewiston
Police Dep’t, 696 So. 2nd
772 (Fl. App. Ct. 1996), in which a Florida Court of Appeals held that “an
excessive charge could well serve to inhibit the pursuit of rights conferred by
the Public Records Act.”
Additionally, § 119.07 of the Florida Statutes requires that charges be
“reasonable” and that a government body to whom a request is made “should be
required to explain” the reasoning behind a high assessment.
Landmark has had difficulty working with your office in the past. In a previous instance, Landmark was provided with information pursuant to a public records request only after such information was distributed to the media.
In light of these legal obligations and the fact that your office has proved difficult to work with, Landmark requests that you provide an itemization of any charges that you anticipate Landmark will incur. Specifically, how would an initial deposit of $5,000.00 be allocated; the expected rate incurred for assigning fulltime personnel to process the request; the universe of information that will be searched; and any other issues that justify such a large estimated cost for production. It is not enough to simply throw out a cost figure without your office having made the effort to justify it in some detail.
Moreover, since the material Landmark seeks may be relevant in any future ethical or criminal investigation, Landmark requests that your office take immediate steps to preserve any possible sources of information including electronic data, hard copy documents, hard drives, data storage servers, or any other medium used to store information.
You also state that the production of requested materials would take months. Again, you provide no explanation for this assertion. Why should it take months? Most of the material we seek should be readily available – telephonic records, expense reports, email communications, etc. Moreover, there is no reason your office can’t roll out the production of materials rather than waiting to provide them en masse. Therefore, we require a further explanation in this regard.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this important matter.
Mark R. Levin