Freedom of Information Act Attorney Helping Clients Access Information
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) ensures that the public has the right to request access to any and all federal government records. This act has been in effect since 1967 and is used by people in need of information for a wide variety of reasons. This act allows Americans to keep an eye on the workings of our government and make sure that laws are followed and vital information is not covered up. There are certain exemptions to this law, listed below, but, in general, any information held by an agency or office of the federal government of the United States is available to the public. One aspect of the Freedom of Information Act is a “Presumption of Openness.” This is the idea that all government agency records, documents, and information are assumed to be open to the public unless revealing it would cause harm or the information is protected by law.The Office of Information Policy at the Department of Justice is responsible for issuing guidance to federal agencies regarding FOIA and encouraging those agencies to comply with both the letter and the spirit of this important law.
What sets America apart from the rest of the world is our freedom. If it is true that information is power, then the freedom to access information gives Americans the power we need to make sure that our government is acting fairly, responsibly, and legally. If you have had trouble getting information that you believe is covered under FOIA, call Krause Law, PLLC today to speak with Attorney Ben Krause (612) 888-9567 and get assistance enforcing your right to information.
What Information is Exempt from FOIA?
Congress has granted 9 specific exemptions from the Freedom of Information Act. They are:
- Information that is classified to protect national security.
- Information related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency.
- Information that is prohibited from disclosure by another federal law.
- Trade secrets or commercial or financial information that is confidential or privileged.
- Privileged communications within or between agencies, including those protected by the:
- Deliberative Process Privilege (provided the records were created less than 25 years before the date on which they were requested)
- Attorney-Work Product Privilege
- Attorney-Client Privilege
- Information that, if disclosed, would invade another individual’s personal privacy.
- Information contained in law enforcement records that:
- (A). Could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings
- (B). Would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication
- (C). Could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy
- (D). Could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source
- (E). Would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law
- (F). Could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual
- Information that concerns the supervision of financial institutions.
- Geological information on wells.
If you have made FOIA requests and have not gotten the requested records, it is possible that some of the information fell under one or more of these exclusions.
If that is not the case, contact Krause Law to help you get the information the law entitles you to access.
How Do I Make a FOIA Request?
It is possible that the information you seek is already publicly available and that you don’t need to make a FOIA request. Each agency’s website will contain a lot of public information, and that is a good place to start looking. You can also search for information from government websitesatFOIA.gov.
If you do not find the information you’re looking for, you may need to make a FOIA request to the agency in question through their FOIA office. Every federal agency has one. There is no particular form to send—you must simply describe, in writing, the records you seek. Most agencies will accept requests sent through the US Mail or electronically by web form, email, or fax. The FOIA website publishes a list of federal agenciesthat you can use to get details about how to make a request to each agency and what specific requirements each agency may have for seeking records, if any.
What if My FOIA Request is Not Honored?
If you are not satisfied with an agency’s response to your request, you may file an appeal.It can also be effective, prior to filing an appeal, to speak to the FOIA professional handling the request or the agency’s FOIA Public Liaison, whose job it is to explain the process to you, assist in reducing any delays, and help resolve any disputes. Sometimes, this may resolve the issue and you may get access to the information you were seeking.
If not, you can typically file an appeal by sending a letter or an email to the designated appeal authority of the agency. In your letter, you must state that you are appealing the initial decision made on your request. The appellate authority will then conduct an independent review of the matter and send you a response advising you of its decision. If you still are not satisfied, may seek mediation services from the Office of Government Information Services at the National Archives and Records Administration.
Federal agencies often would prefer not to release information that they feel will be embarrassing or will reveal mistakes or unfair or illegal practices. Therefore, it may be necessary for you to enlist the help of an experienced Freedom of Information Act attorney to assist you in getting the data to which you are entitled as an American.
Why is Attorney Ben Krause the Right Choice?
Attorney Ben Krause is committed to the American ideals of freedom and government transparency. He will work tirelessly to get you the information you seek. Call Krause Law., PLLC at (612) 888-9567.