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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Two Final Binding PAC Opinions for 2018

Earlier this month, we reported on 2018 binding PAC opinions.  To our surprise, the PAC issued two last minute binding opinions for 2018 on December 31.  Both involved FOIA complaints.

In it’s 17th binding opinion of the year, the PAC again found a public body in violation of FOIA for failing to respond to a FOIA request. PAC Op. 18-017.

In the 18th and final binding decision of 2018, the PAC found a public body in violation of FOIA for withholding two complaints against a police officer under 7(1)(c) as an invasion of personal privacy. The PAC found that because the complaints related to an employee’s public duties, the disclosure of the complaints would not constitute an unwarranted invasion of the employee’s personal privacy. That ruling is consistent with other PAC decisions that deal with complaints about public employees -- the PAC has consistently determined these complaints are not exempt under 7(c) of FOIA because that section says that “the disclosure of information that bears on the public duties of public employees and officials shall not be considered an invasion of personal privacy.” However, the PAC did note that names and other discrete information identifying the complainants would be exempt under 7(1)(c). PAC Op. 18-018. 

The opinion did not address whether the complaints might have been exempt under another FOIA exemption. For example, depending on whether or not an administrative hearing or investigative process was ongoing, the complaints may have been exempt under FOIA. 

Post Authored by Erin Pell, Ancel Glink


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