Ruling says government can’t charge for legal review of open records under Missouri’s Sunshine Law

A court ruling in St. Louis County last month found that Missouri public records laws do not allow government agencies to charge fees for the time they spend reviewing public records and blacking out information before turning them over to the people who requested them.

The Missouri Sunshine Law says the requester can be billed for the time it takes to locate records, but the government has the responsibility to segregate open parts from closed.

Because public records such as police reports often contain pieces of information that can be kept confidential, such as Social Security numbers, public agencies typically review those records and remove sensitive parts before releasing them.