At Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky, our attorneys help citizens and news organizations assert their rights under the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law and Sunshine Act, the Ohio Public Records and Open Meetings acts, and the West Virginia Freedom of Information and Open Meeting acts. We provide counsel and representation in litigation to ensure that records are promptly and appropriately released.
For the media and government watchdog organizations, the issue is more than just access to records. Timeliness is often critical, and state laws may leave the government some wiggle room in this regard.
Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Act gives the government five business days to grant or deny a request (citing the legal basis for any denial) or invoke a 30-day extension. Grounds for extensions may include off-site record storage, insufficient staffing, the need for legal review or redaction, and the complexity of the request.
West Virginia likewise gives the government five business days to deny or advise the requestor of the time and place where he or she may inspect and copy the materials. In contrast, Ohio’s Public Records Act affords the government a reasonable amount of time to rule on a request, interpreted by the courts as without delay and with reasonable speed.
In every case, the attorneys at SMGG help ensure the government correctly interprets the request and the law regarding the timing and cost of the release.
Our attorneys also help organizations and individuals counter government release of information that should not be made public. This may include:
Hiding behind the cloak of executive session is a time-honored municipal pastime, and the attorneys at SMGG have helped many individuals and organizations keep government bodies honest.
Full and accurate minutes must be kept and any efforts to invoke executive session must meet legal standards. Depending on the state, exceptions may include discussions about personnel, the purchase of property, pending or imminent court action, and collective bargaining.
The attorneys at Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky regularly pursue appeals, issue cease and desist letters and petition courts for mandamus actions ordering government bodies to make records or meetings accessible. To learn more about how we can help, please contact Ronald D. Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for a consultation.