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June 21, 1993

 

Mr. Leslie J. Kyser
86-C-0109
354 Hunter Street
Ossining, NY 110562-5442

The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to
issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is
based solely upon the facts presented in your correspondence.

Dear Mr. Kyser:

I have received your letter of May 31, which reached this
office on June 7.

You have sought an advisory opinion concerning the reduction
of fees for copies of records on the basis of indigency. Attached
to your letter is correspondence from the Office of the Erie County
Clerk in which it was stated that the fees charged by that office
"are not negotiable."

In this regard, I point out that there is nothing in the
Freedom of Information Law that pertains to the waiver of fees.
Further, in a recent decision involving a request for a waiver of
fees by an inmate who sought records from an office of a district
attorney, it was held that an agency may assess a fee in accordance
with the Freedom of Information Law, notwithstanding the inmate's
status as an indigent person [Whitehead v. Morgenthau, 552 NYS 2d
518 (1990)]. Further, I believe that a county clerk is required to
charge fees based on provisions of the Civil Practice Law and Rules
(see §8020).

It is possible that you may receive a waiver or reduction of
fees in conjunction with a different provision of law. However,
since I am not an expert on that subject, it is suggested that you
discuss the matter with an attorney.

I hope that I have been of some assistance.

Sincerely,

 

Robert J. Freeman
RJF:jm Executive Director