Attorney Audrey Buglione's electronic newsletter keeping you
"In the Know" on the Right to Know Law

Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2014 - In This Issue:
Case law review
To keep you In the Know, each week we review select Office of Open Records Final Determinations and decisions issued by the Commonwealth Court or Supreme Court.  
Commonwealth Court
 Donahue v. Pennsylvania Dept. of Labor and Industry, 56 C.D. 2014, Sept. 29, 2014.
- Affirmed: An agency is not required to compile documents in a manner proscribed by Requester; a Request is not sufficiently specific if it requires an agency to conduct legal research in order to respond to the Request
- Section 705 - compilation
- Section 703
- specificity

The Requester sought access to emails that were described in a letter to Requester indicating that Requester had sent a "plethora" of emails that were "inaccurate," "inappropriate," and "threatening." The Commonwealth Court affirmed denial of the Request holding that "[t]he RTKL does not require an agency to reorganize or categorize public records in order to comply with a RTKL request if the agency does not routinely compile or organize the records in the manner or format requested."

The Commonwealth Court also determined that the Request was not sufficiently specific because it "would require the Department to research which documents possess the legal significance necessary to respond to this request."

For more detail on Donahue v. Dept. of L&I, click here.
OOR Decisions
ABC27 News v. Cumberland County
- Granted in Part: Records related to studies
- Section 703 Specificity; altering a Request

Request sought records related to "studies" conducted by the County.  The County denied the Request for lack of specificity.  The OOR considered the definition of "study" and found that the use of the word studies did not render the Request nonspecific.  The OOR determined that "the term 'studies' identifies a specific type of agency record that contains an analysis of a question or issue of interest to the agency, including feasibility studies analyzing the suitability of an
agency project or its likelihood of success."

The OOR held that the Request lacked certain specificity and commended the County on its attempt to work with the Requester to clarify the Request.  For clarity, the Requester identified certain types of records sought such as "receipts, commissioner meeting records, and ordinances."  However, the OOR declined to consider the clarification stating "the OOR's review on appeal is confined to a request as written and submitted to the agency." The Requester's appeal was partially granted, but which records are to be released is not readily apparent.  
 York Dispatch v. City of York
- Denied: Mayor's calendar
- Section 708(b)(12) Working papers

The OOR upheld denial of the Mayor's calendar finding that the City's evidence that the "Mayor's appointment calendar is used solely for the Mayor's personal use and ... does not have an official purpose." 
 Wilkins v. Pa. Dept. of Corrections
- Granted: Agency failed to provide sufficient evidence that release of inmate shower list jeopardizes public or personal safety
- Section 708(b)(1)  Personal security
- Section 708(b)(2) Public Safety

The Requester sought ""a copy of the HA Housing Unit (Pine Grove) shower list for AM showers...." The Department denied the Request asserting that records are exempt by various sections of the RTKL.  However, the Department did not provide any factual evidence to support its claim and the OOR granted the appeal.
Question of the Week:
Do Requests for records need to be in writing? Can an agency respond to a verbal Request?  
The Pennsylvania Right to Know Law does not prohibit an agency from responding to verbal requests for records.  However, if the agency's response is a denial of access (whether in writing or verbally) the Requester will be unable to appeal that decision.  The Pennsylvania Office of Open Records requires that all appeals of denials include a copy of the written Request in order to process the appeal.

IMPORTANT:   The answers to these questions should not be deemed legal advice or be acted upon without prior consultation with appropriate professional advisors. 
Learn more about the RTKL and how it affects you, your agency or your business
OOR Annual Training  - October 22, 2014
 The OOR is holding its Annual RTKL Training at the State Museum in Harrisburg on October 22, 2014 from 10a.m. to noon. Free.  CLE credits available. Learn More

PA State Association of Boroughs - Webinar, Nov. 4, 2014
The Pennsylvania State Association of Borough is holding a webinar update on the RTKL on November 5, 2014 at noon.  Learn More

Got RTKL issues? We can help.
Agency Legal Liaison services
Our goal is to help make your job as the Agency Open Records Officer responding to Right to Know Request as efficient and painless as possible. Knowing the proper response to an uncommon or confusing request for records can be difficult without spending hours keeping up with the ever changing RTKL.  Commonwealth Agency Open Records Officers have dedicated attorneys to turn to when such questions arise. Until now, smaller agencies did not. The Law Office of Audrey Buglione offers rapid legal guidance to your pressing RTKL questions. Giving the right response from the beginning helps to avoid protracted and costly litigation before the Office of Open Records or courts. As a former appeals officer, Audrey is intimately familiar with the RTKL and the subtle differences between what makes one record public and a similar record not public. 

For more information on how Audrey can help your agency avoid wasting taxpayer dollars on unnecessary RTKL litigation, contact her at  717-657-1597or 

Consulting services
Are your agency policies in compliance with the RTKL?  Are your procedures for complying with the RTKL efficient and cost-effective?  Do you have a records management plan? 

If your answer is No to any of those questions, you may be needlessly wasting tax payer dollars and putting your agency at risk for increased public scrutiny leading to expensive litigation.

As a former Appeals Officer and Training Coordinator for the Office of Open Records Audrey knows first hand the difficulties agencies may face in complying with the RTKL. Audrey offers consulting services to review your current policies, draft new policies or revise existing policies, and provide a detailed plan on how to manage records and respond to RTKL requests in an efficient and cost effective manner that increases public confidence in your agency.

For more information on how consulting services, contact us at  717-657-1597 or 

Legal representation before the OOR, courts of common pleas and Commonwealth Court
Has a denial or failure to respond to a request resulted in an appeal or the necessity of an appeal to the Office of Open Records or beyond? As a former Appeals Officer with the Office of Open Records Audrey Buglione is uniquely well versed in handling appellate matters before the OOR and the judicial courts.  The RTKL and OOR procedures establish a very rapid response period to appeals with little time to get up to speed on the status of the law.  If you have a RTKL matter, it is important that you seek legal guidance as soon as possible. Audrey accepts RTKL cases through standard client representation or through referrals working with outside attorneys via referrals.

For more information on how Audrey can represent you, your agency or your organization in the appeals process or attorney referral options, contact us at  717-657-1597 or 

In the Know
A weekly electronic newsletter on the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law presented by 
The Law Office of Audrey Buglione
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Keeping you "In the Know on the Right to Know"

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Disclaimer: This newsletter is for general information only. The information presented is not legal advice, and your use of it does not create an attorney-client relationship. No visitor to this newsletter or the website should act on the basis of any content included therein without seeking the appropriate legal advice from counsel. Any prior results described do not guarantee a similar outcome. The attorney responsible for maintaining this newsletter is Audrey Buglione.


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