August 1, 1995
Mr. Ricky Galvin
Attica Corr. Facility
PO Box 149
Attica, NY 14011
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 correspondence.
Dear Mr. Galvin:
I have received your letter of July 24. You have questioned your right to obtain an attorney registration statement from the "Office of Management", as well as records of the "Office of Management Support" concerning disbarment proceedings.
In this regard, I am unaware of agencies known as the Office of Management or the Office of Management Support. However, I believe that records of or pertaining to attorney registration may be requested and obtained from the Office of Court Administration. Having contacted that agency on your behalf, I was informed that a record characterized as an "attorney registration statement" is not a public record, but that a form known as an "AR 1" is made available to the public. That form includes the name of an attorney currently registered and in good standing, that person's business address, the Department of the Appellate Division to which he or she was admitted, and the year of admission. To seek such a record, it is suggested that you write to the Office of Court Administration, Attorney Registration, 270 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10007.
I note that the Freedom of Information Law pertains to agency records and that §86(3) of that statute 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 excludes the courts and court records from its coverage.
Second, with respect to the discipline of attorneys, §90(10) of the Judiciary Law states that:
"Any statute or rule to the contrary notwithstanding, all papers, records and documents upon the application or examination of any person for admission as an attorney or counsellor at law and upon any complaint, inquiry, investigation or proceeding relating to the conduct or discipline of an attorney or attorneys, shall be sealed and be deemed private and confidential. However, upon good cause being shown, the justices of the appellate division having jurisdiction are empowered, in their discretion, by written order, to permit to be divulged all or any part of such papers, records and documents. In the discretion of the presiding or acting presiding justice of said appellate division, such order may be made without notice to the persons or attorneys to be affected thereby or upon such notice to them as he may direct. In furtherance of the purpose of this subdivision, said justices are also empowered, in their discretion, from time to time to make such rules as they may deem necessary. Without regard to the foregoing, in the event that charges are sustained by the justices of the appellate division having jurisdiction in any complaint, investigation or proceeding relating to the conduct or discipline of any attorney, the records and documents in relation thereto shall be deemed public records."
Based on the foregoing, when records are subject to §90(10) of the Judiciary Law, I believe that they may be disclosed only in conjunction with that statute, and that the Freedom of Information Law would be inapplicable. I hope that I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman