December 27, 2002
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The
ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your
I have received your letter in which you asked, whether, in consideration of §§87(2)(a) of the
Freedom of Information Law and 50-b of the Civil Rights Law, appeal briefs would be available
under the Freedom of Information Law following the redaction of identifiable details pertaining to
the victim of a sex offense.
In this regard, first, the Freedom of Information Law is applicable to agency records, and
§86(3) of that statute defines the term "agency" to mean:
"...any state or municipal department, board, bureau, division,
commission, committee, public authority, public corporation, council,
office or other governmental entity performing a governmental or
proprietary function for the state or any one or more municipalities
thereof, except the judiciary or the state legislature."
In turn, §86(1) defines "judiciary" to mean:
"...the courts of the state, including any municipal or district court,
whether or not of record."
Based on the foregoing, the courts are not subject to the Freedom of Information Law.
Second, in a case in which the state's highest court considered the question that you raised
in relation to both the Freedom of Information Law and the Civil Rights Law, it was determined that
there is no obligation "to provide the records even though redaction might remove all details which
'tend to identify the victim'" [Karlin v. McMahon, 96 NY2d 842 (2001)].
I hope that I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman