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November 12, 1993

 

 

Mr. Gregory Higgs
473 Greene Avenue #4A
Brooklyn, NY 11216

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. Higgs:

I have received your letter of October 16 which pertains to
difficulties concerning your attempts to gain access to Family
Court records.

In this regard, it is emphasized at the outset that the
Committee on Open Government is authorized to advise with respect
to the Freedom of Information Law, which pertains to agency
records. Section 86(3) of the Freedom of Information Law defines
the term "agency" to include:

"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."

As such, the Freedom of Information Law does not apply to the
courts or court records.

Of possible relevance to the matter is §166 of the Family
Court Act. That statute states that:

"The records of any proceeding in the family
court shall not be open to indiscriminate
public inspection. However, the court in its
discretion in any case may permit the
inspection of any papers or records. Any duly
authorized agency, association, society or
institution to which a child is committed may
cause an inspection of the record of
investigation to be had and may in the
discretion of the court obtain a copy of the
whole or part of such record."

Since the matter is outside the jurisdiction of this office,
it is suggested that you contact the Office of Court Administration
in Manhattan at (212) 417-5900 or that you seek the services of an
attorney.

I hope that I have been of some assistance.

Sincerely,

 

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director

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