UNJUSTIFIED DELAY IN PRODUCING FS 119 REQUESTS

I BEG WHOMEVER SAYS THAT THE TURN OVER OF PUBLIC RECORDS UPON REQUEST HAS NO COURT APPROVAL. READ THE ATTACHED.

Unjustified Delay
The Public Records Act does not contain a specific time limit (such as 24 hours or 10 days) for compliance with public records requests. However, “delay in making public records available is permissible under very limited circumstances.” Promenade D’Iberville, LLC v. Sundy, 145 So. 3d 980, 983 (Fla. 1st DCA August 28, 2014). In Promenade, the court noted that a
records custodian could delay production to determine whether the records exist, s. 119.07[1] [c], F.S.; if the custodian believes the some or all of the record is exempt, s. 119.07[1][d]-[e]; or if the requesting party fails to forward the appropriate fees, s. 119.07[4], F.S. Otherwise, the only
delay in producing records permitted under Ch. 119, F.S., “is the limited reasonable time allowed the custodian to retrieve the record and delete those portions of the record the custodian asserts are exempt.” Id. at 983, citing Tribune Company v. Cannella, 458 So. 2d 1075, 1078 (Fla. 1984),
appeal dismissed sub nom., DePerte v. Tribune Company, 105 S.Ct. 2315 (1985). Where the delays aren’t justified, “the Public Records Act holds officials accountable.” Siegmeister v. Johnson, 240 So. 3d 70, 74 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018). Thus, an agency’s unjustified delay in producing public records constitutes an unlawful refusal to provide access to public records. See Lilker v. Suwannee Valley Transit Authority, 133 So. 3d 654, 655 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014) (“Unlawful refusal under section 119.12 includes not only
affirmative refusal to produce records, but also unjustified delay in producing them”). See also Rechler v. Town of Manalapan, No. CL 94-2724 AD (Fla. 15th Cir. Ct. November 21, 1994), affirmed, 674 So. 2d 789, 790 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996), review denied, 684 So. 2d 1353 (Fla. 1996), finding that the town engaged in a “pattern of delays” by taking months to fully comply with the petitioner’s public records requests; and State v. Webb, 786 So. 2d 602, 604 (Fla. 1st DCA 2001) (error for a lower court judge to vacate a misdemeanor conviction of a records custodian [Webb] who had been found guilty of willfully violating s. 119.07(1)(a), F.S., based on her “dilatory” response to public records requests). For example, in Promenade D’Iberville, LLC v. Sundy, supra, the appellate court determined
that an agency violated the Public Records Act by refusing to provide non-exempt public records until a court denied its motion for a protective order to block the requestor (an adversary in out-of-state litigation) from using the Act. Similarly, a trial judge erred by granting the agency’s
motion to dismiss on the grounds that the agency ultimately provided the record three months after the request was made and two weeks after the request for mandamus relief had been filed. Consumer Rights, LLC v. Bradford County, Florida, 153 So. 3d 394, 398 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014).
Instead, the judge should have conducted a hearing to determine whether the delay was justified.

Leave a Reply