A&A: The author of requested emails assigned to fulfill PRA request

Q: I requested information regarding communications of someone who works directly for our County and also is on our City Council. The County Administrator gave her the PRA request and is allowing her to fulfill it herself. Is this legal? I requested emails to a certain person from her.

A: The Public Records Act does not, as far as I can tell, specify who at a particular agency is required to oversee the fulfillment of a Public Records Act request. In the situation you describe, it would probably make sense for the county administrator to contact the staffer and ask her to search her files for communications that are responsive to your request.

Of course, if communications from this person are located elsewhere, then, presumably, the county should look in those locations as well to ensure that all disclosable records responsive to your request are located and produced.

Many public agencies designate a particular individual to oversee Public Records Act requests. If you feel that you are not getting all of the records that are responsive to your request, you may want to find out who this individual is in the County, and then resubmit your Public Records Act request to that person, perhaps relating any concerns you have about the individual tasked with locating the relevant records and her relationship to those records.

You can find more information about the Public Records Act, including a sample request letter, at the First Amendment Coalition web site at https://firstamendmentcoalition.org/category/resources/access-to-records/.

Holme Roberts & Owen LLP is general counsel for the First Amendment Coalition and responds to FAC hotline inquiries. In responding to these inquiries, we can give general information regarding open government and speech issues but cannot provide specific legal advice or representation.