Friday, November 12, 2010

The Florida Sunshine law, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG JACKASS!

Here in the great state of Florida we have something called the "Sunshine Law", it goes something like this...

The "Sunshine" Law

119.01 General state policy on public records -
(1) It is the policy of this state that all state, county, and municipal records are open for personal inspection and copying by any person. Providing access to public records is a duty of each agency.

This is a fantastic law that opens up the governments files to the public, I've watched over the last several years as several different scandals have unfolded as a result of the people being allowed to go through these public records, most recently, I've watched first hand as Al Crespo of the Crespo-Gram Report has unearthed several sensitive documents regarding the shenanigans at the City of Miami through just such a public information request.  I figure, it's time to make a public records request, I started off by asking for some emails between the lead Detective in the Barrera Mortgage fraud case, Jorge Baluja and the assistant state attorney who prosecuted the case, Bill Kostrzewski.  Here's what I got back...

Ok, I'm a fair person, no one works for free and after all, it'll take a few minutes to go ahead and access the email accounts I requested, search the emails and put them together in a new email or even print them, put them in an envelope and send them out to me, no problem.  So I get to the next page in order to see how much I have to send the county for these records and I get this...


FOUR HUNDRED EIGHTY FOUR THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED EIGHTEEN DOLLARS AND 46 CENTS?!  I knew things were bad over at the county but HALF A MILLION DOLLARS to produce some emails?  That's just for seven months of emails between a cop and a prosecutor on ONE CASE!  Can you imagine if I asked for two years worth of emails?  Honestly, anyone can do the work required for this public information request in less than 15 minutes, what the hell is going on here?  Looks like it's time to lawyer up!


  1. Is the check in the mail?

  2. Wow, when Sarnoff the great the ethics magician asked Al Crespo for $225 he blew up and got a lawyer. For half a million I'd call up the supreme court of the US

  3. I would file suit. Let that detective give that figure to the judge. I'd put the figure front and center in whatever pleading you file. You can also request it from the State Attorney's office.

  4. 119.01 (2)(a) Automation of public records must not erode the right of access to those records. As each agency increases its use of and dependence on electronic recordkeeping, each agency must provide reasonable public access to records electronically maintained and must ensure that exempt or confidential records are not disclosed except as otherwise permitted by law.

    I wonder if a lawyer could argue that access at that cost is not reasonable under this section of the statute.

  5. 119.07. Inspection and copying of records; photographing public records; fees; exemptions

    (d) If the nature or volume of public records requested to be inspected or copied pursuant to this subsection is such as to require extensive use of information technology resources or extensive clerical or supervisory assistance by personnel of the agency involved, or both, the agency may charge, in addition to the actual cost of duplication, a special service charge, which shall be reasonable and shall be based on the cost incurred for such extensive use of information technology resources or the labor cost of the personnel providing the service that is actually incurred by the agency or attributable to the agency for the clerical and supervisory assistance required, or both.

    Again, key here is the fee must be REASONABLE.

  6. Interesting case: Carden v. Chief of Police, City of Clewiston Police Dept., App. 2 Dist., 696 So.2d 772 (1996).

    The case held that the "Police chief would be required to explain in more detail reason for magnitude of special service charge, in excess of $4,000, required for staff to research public records not on computer, in light of statutory requirement that special service charges for responding to public records request be 'reasonable.'"