Question from Spanky pants, How to File a Complaint for Missing Public Records?
Answer from AI:
When you request public records, such as personnel files and records of a police officer, and find that some of the files are missing, there are specific steps you can take to address the issue. It’s important to understand that public records requests are governed by state laws, and in New Hampshire, the relevant law is the New Hampshire Right-to-Know Law (RSA 91-A).
Steps to Take When Public Records are Missing
- Follow Up with the Agency: The first step is to contact the city hall or the specific department that processed your request. Clarify that you have received an incomplete response and ask for the missing documents. There may have been an oversight or a misunderstanding about what you requested.
- Written Appeal: If the agency does not resolve the issue, you may need to file a written appeal with the head of the agency. Clearly state which documents are missing and reference your original request.
- File a Complaint with the Attorney General: If the agency head does not resolve the issue, you can file a complaint with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office. They have the authority to investigate violations of the Right-to-Know Law.
- Consider Legal Action: As a last resort, you may file a lawsuit in the Superior Court. The court can order the agency to comply with the law and provide the records. Be aware that legal action can be costly and time-consuming, so it’s often considered a last resort.
Understanding the Right-to-Know Law
Under the New Hampshire Right-to-Know Law, public officials are required to provide access to governmental records and other information considered public. However, there are exceptions, and certain personnel records may be exempt from disclosure if they contain information that is considered private or confidential.
When to Seek Legal Advice
If you are unsure about your rights under the Right-to-Know Law or if you believe your request has been unlawfully denied, it may be beneficial to consult with a legal professional. An attorney can provide personalized advice and help you understand the best course of action based on the specifics of your situation.
- New Hampshire Right-to-Know Law: Review the text of the law to understand your rights and the obligations of public agencies. You can find the law on the New Hampshire General Court website.
- Self-Help Resources: Look for guides and resources provided by advocacy groups or legal aid organizations that explain how to make a public records request and what to do if you encounter issues.
Remember, while this information can guide you in the right direction, it is not a substitute for legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances. If you believe your rights under the Right-to-Know Law have been violated, consider seeking legal counsel to assist you in resolving the matter.