If Arizona Legislators pass Senate Bill 1339 (2015), they would be sending mixed signals on public records. The bill intends to weed out burdensome requests, by allowing public records custodians to claim the request “unduly burdensome” or “harassing.”
This is bad public policy – it is as simple as that. This legislation undermines the principles of Arizona’s public records law and ignores the historical precedent set by the common law which barred unduly burdensome or harassing requests.
One of the reasons why public record laws exist is to give the government legitimacy. The laws allow individuals to check up on the government and look for corruption, bad actors, etc. The Arizona Legislature is obfuscating this common law right1 “It is clear that the courts of this country recognize a general right to inspect and copy public records and documents.” Nixon v. Warner Communications, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978). I recognize that there is a problem, but this is not the solution.
Public records in Arizona are going to become like some of the street signs — indecipherable to passersby. When things become muddled, usually is not a good thing.
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|1.||↑||“It is clear that the courts of this country recognize a general right to inspect and copy public records and documents.” Nixon v. Warner Communications, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978).|