FOIA Attorney in Buffalo, New York
In the United States, governments at all levels are expected to uphold a principle of transparency. Part of this responsibility requires government agencies to grant access to public records upon request, unless certain exceptions are met. If a federal agency fails to respond to a request or wrongfully denies one, the requesting party may file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the agency withholding the requested information.
Attorney Michael Kuzma has the knowledge and experience to advise clients in their FOIA cases. Mike can enlighten you about your rights and options to request access to public records from federal or state agencies. Even if your request is denied, Mike can help file your lawsuit, protect your right of access, and represent you diligently at every phase of the legal process.
Michael Kuzma serves clients throughout he United States who are experiencing problems prying loose records from recalcitrant governmental agencies.
What Is FOIA?
The Freedom of Information Act is a federal law that requires the government or public authority to provide a partial or full disclosure of previously uncirculated or unreleased documents, records, and information under their control upon a written request. The primary purpose of the FOIA is to ensure transparency at all levels of government, mitigate secrecy, and expose all forms of governmental misconduct.
Exclusions and Exemptions of FOIA
However, there are certain records and documents that are exempt or excluded from public access under FOIA, including:
information that is classified to protect national security
information that is exclusively related to the internal personnel rules and practices of the government agency
information that is prohibited from disclosure by another federal or state law
trade secrets and other confidential or privileged financial or business information
intra-agency or inter-agency communications that are safeguarded by legal privileges
information involving matters of personal privacy or would disclose personal privacy if disclosed
specific information and records are compiled for law enforcement purposes
information pertaining to the supervision of financial institutions
geological information on wells
Information that involves an ongoing criminal law enforcement investigation is excluded.
Information where the status of the informant has not been officially confirmed – this exclusion is primarily invoked by intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
Foreign intelligence or counterintelligence, or international terrorism records that are classified – this exclusion is utilized by agencies such as the FBI.
An attorney with extensive FOIA experience can guide you through the process of making a request and evaluate whether the requested information falls under any of the above exclusions and exemptions.
How to Make a Request
Generally, any individual, including U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens, may submit a FOIA request. Here are the steps involved in requesting assess to public records:
Check if the requested information or record is available to the public.
Submit a written FOIA request to the FOIA Office of the federal agency. The written request should provide a reasonable description of the sought-after records.
Submit the request to the government agency electronically, through web form, fax, e-mail, or mail.
The agency will have up to 20 business days to determine whether they will release the requested information.
However, each federal agency has its specific requirements and guidelines for seeking certain information and records. For help with filing your request, be sure to work with an attorney with experience in FOIA matters.
Things to Consider Before You Submit a Request
If you’re thinking about submitting a request to a federal agency to access public records, here are some important things to consider:
Consider the information or records you need.
Consider where to file your request.
Consider the processing fees and costs associated with your request.
Consider whether your request will require further research.
Consider the requirements and procedures.
Consider the time it may take to process your FOIA request.
Unless your request falls under the exclusions and exemptions previously mentioned above, the federal agency is obligated to provide you access to the requested information. However, if the agency doesn’t supply the requested records or fails to respond to your request, you may take certain legal actions.
Your Options When Your Request Isn’t Fulfilled
If the agency fails to fulfill your request, you may explore the following actions:
Public Liaisons – file a complaint with the FOIA Public Liaisons to help reduce delays and process your request.
Appeals – submit an administrative appeal indicating all of the relevant facts of your request.
Litigation – file a lawsuit against the government agency in court.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
Federal law allows individuals and entities to request access to the public records of any government agency to ensure transparency. However, in the event that your request is unnecessarily delayed or denied, you may be entitled to take legal action. An experienced FOIA attorney can help you understand your available legal options and protect your right to access the information you need.
Attorney Michael Kuzma is committed to offering comprehensive guidance and advocacy to clients in their FOIA cases. As your attorney, Mike can check whether the requested information is available to the public and help file your request. And if your request has been denied, Mike can help you determine which course of action is most suitable for your specific situation. Reach out to Michael Kuzma's office in Buffalo, New York, today to set up an initial consultation.
FOIA Attorney in Buffalo, New York
If you want to request access to public records from a federal agency or appeal a denial, contact Attorney Michael Kuzma today to schedule a simple consultation. Mike can offer you the brilliant advocacy and legal guidance you need to navigate crucial decisions. Michael Kuzma proudly serves clients across the United States.