March 28, 1997
Mr. Christopher Joseph LeGere
Jensen Beach Post Office
Jensen Beach, FL 34957
Dear Mr. LeGere:
I have received your letter of March 18, as well as a variety of materials attached to it.
It is noted at the outset that the Committee on Open Government is authorized to provide advice concerning the Freedom of Information Law. This office does not maintain records generally, nor is it empowered to acquire records on behalf of an individual.
To seek records under the Freedom of Information Law, an applicant should ordinarily direct his or her request to the "records access officer" at the agency that maintains the records sought. The records access officer has the duty of coordinating an agency's response to requests.
With respect to requests for oaths of office, such records are filed with respect to some of the individuals to whom you referred but, in all likelihood, not all. Oaths are filed by governors, commissioners and other state employees. However, because they are filed chronologically, an applicant must include the year in which the oath was filed in order to locate and obtain copies of the records. Some of the individuals that you identified are not state employees, such as the employees of the State Medical Society and the Mental Hygiene Legal Services. Further, some of the individuals associated with the Capital District Psychiatric Center may not be employees, but rather persons who function on a contractual basis. The latter group would not have filed oaths of office.
I note that copies of oaths of office are available for a fee of 50 cents per photocopy pursuant to §96 of the Executive Law. If you choose to request copies of oaths of office, please make your check payable to the "NYS Department of State" and send it to the Department of State, Bureau of Miscellaneous Records, 41 State Street, Albany, NY 12231.
One aspect of your request involves home addresses of certain public employees. Here I point out that §89(7) of the Freedom of Information Law specifies that home addresses of present or former public employees need not be disclosed.
Lastly, you are interested in obtaining a copy of a warrant pertaining to you from the Town of Glenville. Since I am unaware of the content of the warrant, I cannot offer specific guidance. However, as a general matter, the Freedom of Information Law is based upon a presumption of access. Stated differently, all records of an agency are available, except to the extent that records or portions thereof fall within one or more grounds for denial appearing in §87(2)(a) through (i) of the Law.
Perhaps most relevant would be §87(2)(e), which permits an agency to withhold records that:
"are compiled for law enforcement purposes and which, if disclosed, would:
i. interfere with law enforcement investigations or judicial proceedings;
ii. deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or impartial adjudication;
iii. identify a confidential source or disclose confidential information relating to a criminal investigation; or
iv. reveal criminal investigative techniques or procedures, except routine techniques and procedures."
If §87(2)(e) could not justifiably be asserted as a means of withholding the warrant, it would appear that the Town must disclose it, whether or not you appear, so long as you pay the appropriate fee.
I hope that I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman
cc: Jack G. Purdy, Chief of Police