New York FOIA Laws

New York Open Meetings Law

The New York Open Meetings Law legislates the method by which public meetings are conducted. Meetings are the official convening of a public body to discuss and decide on public business. If violated, a court may void any action taken during a meeting in violation of the law if the violation was knowingly committed.

Open Meetings Law NY Pub. Off. Law sec. 103 etseq.

Closed: Litigation strategy discussions; collective bargaining; certain real estate transactions; certain personnel matters; and matters which would imperil public safety or law enforcement or disclose identity of informant. Open Meetings Law Advisory Opinion Index

New York Freedom of Information Law

The New York Freedom of Information Law is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of governmental bodies in New York. New York’s first such law was passed in 1974 but that law was repealed and replaced in 1977 with a significantly changed law. Important amendments were then made to the law in 1982, 2005, and 2008. A record is defined as any information kept, held, filed, produced, or reproduced by, with or for an agency or the state legislature, in any physical form whatsoever. Documents are still covered by the act if a promise of confidentiality has been given, if they are in temporary possession of someone else, or if they originated outside the government but have come into possession of the government.

Anyone can request records in New York. A statement of purpose is usually not required but several New York courts have considered the requestor’s motives to be relevant where the motive of the document requestor was to obtain documents relative to pending litigation. The New York Freedom of Information Law also allows agencies to deny requests for lists if the lists that would be obtained would be used for commercial or fundraising purposes. However, there are no restrictions on how public records may be used, once they have been obtained. Allow five days for a response to a public records request.

Freedom of Information Law NY Pub. Off. Law sec. 84 etseq.

Exempt: Disclosures resulting in unwarranted invasion of privacy or business/competition enterprises; names of sex crime victims; and some law enforcement records and inter/intra-agency materials.

Visit, New York Sample FOIA Request, to view a sample FOIA request for the state.