LL&D Law
Open Records Act - Part 2 -- How to Request Records

by Susan B. Loving
12/22/2010 10:28:00 AM


     The Oklahoma Open Records 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.  
     Last week we discussed the governmental entities that must comply with the Act, and the types of records open to the public. Simply put, the Act applies to 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. Important exceptions to the Act’s application include judges, the Legislature, and legislators.
     This week we address how to request records from a public body. The Act does not specify a procedure for requesting records, but authorizes public bodies to establish reasonable procedures which protect the integrity and organization of its records and prevent excessive disruption of its essential functions. Some entities require a written request, or have a form you must fill out. Regardless of whether you have followed the specific procedure, the public body should respond to your request, and should notify you if additional steps must be followed.
     The Act requires all public bodies to designate persons authorized to release records for inspection, copying, or reproduction. For most public bodies, at least one person must be available at all times to release records during regular business hours.
     For some public bodies you may be able simply to appear in person and be given access to the records at that time. However, for most larger public bodies, you will likely be required to make your request in writing. We recommend you either hand deliver the request and obtain a receipt from the public body, or send it via certified mail. You may address the request to the public body, to the administrative head of the public body, or to the designated records person. 
     Next week we will discuss what a public body may charge to provide records, and what to do if the public body does not comply with the Act.



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