LL&D Law
Open Records Act - Part 1 -- From Whom Can Documents Be Requested?

by Susan B. Loving
12/22/2010 10:24:00 AM


     The “Oklahoma Open Records Act” gives members of the public the right to inspect most public records of public bodies. The Act is codified at 51 O.S. Sections 24A.1 and following. You can locate the Act by going to The Oklahoma Supreme Court Network at www.oscn.net. When you get to the site, click on “Legal Research,” then “Oklahoma Statutes Citationized.” Click on “Title 51,” then scroll down to the Oklahoma Open Records Act.   
     Public bodies subject to the Act include all entities supported in whole or in part by public funds, or entrusted with the expenditure of public funds or administering or operating public property. Public bodies include not only public entities such as the State, cities or towns, and school districts, but public trusts, advisory groups, task forces, and all committees, or subcommittees thereof. However, except for certain records, the Act does not apply to judges, justices, the Legislature, or legislators.
     Although the Act contains several exceptions, in general, public records subject to disclosure include all documents, books, papers, photographs, microfilm, data files created by or used with computer software, computer tapes, disks, records, sound recordings, film recordings, video records or other material regardless of physical form or characteristic, created by, received by, under the authority of, or coming into the custody, control or possession of public officials, public bodies, or their representatives in connection with the transaction of public business, the expenditure of public funds or the administering of public property.
     Every public body and public official has a duty to keep and maintain complete records of the receipt and expenditure of any public funds, which are open to the public. Other than these specific records, however, public bodies and public officials do not generally have a duty to create records. Thus, you may not ask the public body to compile a record for you. 
     Although there are many records exempted from the Act’s general requirement for disclosure of public records, the primary or most common ones are certain law enforcement records, records required by law to be kept confidential, litigation files, and certain personnel and student records. 
     Next week we will discuss how to request records from a public body, and what to do if your request is denied.



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