January 25, 1994
Mr. Wallace S. Nolen
PO Box 1389
Poughkeepsie, NY 12602-1389
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. Nolen:
I have received your letter of December 23, which reached this
office on December 28.
Attached to your letter are documents indicating the Dutchess
County Sheriff's methods of certifying records. You have asked
whether the practice complies with the Freedom of Information Law
and the Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR).
In this regard, as you are aware, the Committee on Open
Government is authorized to provide advice concerning the Freedom
of Information Law. Insofar as your inquiry pertains to compliance
with the CPLR, I have neither the jurisdiction nor the expertise to
offer an opinion.
With respect to the Freedom of Information Law, §89(3) of that
statute refers to the certification of records. When a request for
a record is approved, that provision states in relevant part that:
"Upon payment of, or offer to pay, the fee
prescribed therefor, the entity shall provide
a copy of such record and certify to the
correctness of such copy if so requested..."
In my view, based upon the language quoted above, a certification
made under the Freedom of Information Law does not pertain to the
accuracy of the contents of a record, but rather would involve an
assertion that a copy is a true copy. In other words, a
certification prepared pursuant to §89(3) would not indicate that
the contents of a record are complete, accurate or "legal"; it
would merely indicate that the copy of the record is a true copy.
Further, it has been consistently advised, particularly when
certification is requested with respect to a voluminous number of
records, that a single certification, given by means of a written
assertion, statement or affidavit, for example, describing or
identifying the records that were copied, would be sufficient. I
do not believe that each copy of records made available under the
Freedom of Information Law must be stamped or "certified"
Although the document attached to your letter refers to
certification under the CPLR, I believe that it would comply with
the requirements of §89(3) of the Freedom of Information Law.
I hope that I have been of some assistance.
Robert J. Freeman
cc: Fred. W. Scoralick, Sheriff