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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Need a Public Document?

Need a public document or record, but not sure how to go about getting it?  The beautiful thing about Florida’s Sunshine laws is that anyone can ask for any document at any time and not have to provide a reason.  Hope this helps:

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Article I, section 24 of the Florida Constitution permits certain records to be inspected and copied by any person desiring to do so, at any reasonable time, under reasonable conditions, and under supervision by the custodian of records.

The Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers Office is the authorized custodian of records. It is required to acknowledge all requests to inspect or copy records in a prompt manner, and must respond to document requests in good faith.

A “good faith response” means making reasonable efforts to determine whether the record exists and, if so, where it can be accessed.

You can make a request for public records in person, by phone (850-921-0808), in writing or by email.  Each request will be handled in the order it is received.

To inspect the records, you will need to go to the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers office located at 3544 Maclay Blvd., Tallahassee, FL 32312.   Records will be made available as quickly as is practical after your request is received.

There are fees associated with any request.

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A. Copying fees. $0.15 per single-sided copy. $0.20 per double-sided copy. All other copying fees shall be the actual cost of duplication of the record.

If electronic records are sent by e-mail, no copying fees shall apply. However, a special service charge can be imposed when the records request requires “extensive use of information technology resources, or extensive clerical or supervisory assistance, or both.”

What does that mean?  Well, if the request requires more than 15 minutes of time using information technology, resources, or clerical labor to locate, review, redact, and re-file the requested records, expect to be asked to pay.

In addition, a reasonable service charge can also be imposed to cover the actual labor cost of clerical personnel who are required to safeguard the records from loss or destruction during their inspection.

Deposits. A deposit may be requested.  If the deposit is more than the actual cost, the excess is returned to you.

UNDERSTAND THAT Custodians are not required to answer your questions about the records. Their  only obligation is to provide access to or copies of existing public records.

You cannot ask the Custodian to give you the documents in any particular form or format.  They are only required to provide you records in the format in which the records are kept.  The format does have to be usable, though.

Don’t ask a Custodian to create a new record in a particular format or to reformat it for you.  In a word:  not gonna happen

Follow these “rules” and you’ll get access to public records without a whole lot of time, energy and stress.

Freedom of Information Act requests are a little different.  Keep watching for info on the FOIA.

 

REMEMBER:  Legal Information Is Not Legal Advice

This Website provides general information related to the law and lawyers designed to help users safely cope with their own legal needs. This website does not provide legal advice and The Orlando Advocate is not a law firm. None of our employees are lawyers and they do not provide legal advice. We try to provide you with accurate and useful information, but we STRESS that you consult a lawyer if you want legal advice.  No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or will be formed between you and this website or any of our representatives.

 

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