The Access to Public Records Act (APRA) in Rhode Island provides that records, documents, and emails made or received in the connection of official business by public bodies, including any department, division, agency, commission, board, office, bureau, authority, any school, fire, or water district, or other agency of Rhode Island state or local government shall be made available for every person to inspect and/or copy. See Rhode Island General Laws § 38-2-1.
There are many exceptions to the rule that all documents maintained by public bodies are to be made available to the public. These exemptions can include documents related to the attorney/client privilege, personnel records, some records related law enforcement activities, tax returns, correspondence to and from elected officials, draft documents, and other exemptions.
While Attorney David Ellison worked for the Law Department for the City of Providence, he helped the City respond to over five hundred (500) APRA requests. He defended the City on Attorney General Complaints and became well-versed to the APRA, including the application of the many exemptions.
In addition, Attorney Ellison has filed suit for clients in the Superior Court for violations committed by public bodies. If a public body has violated the APRA, the Superior Court can order the public body to turn over documents to the public, free of charge. In addition, the Court can award your attorney's fees and costs to be paid, along with fining the public body.
If you are looking to make a public records request or have been denied records by a public body, contact Attorney Ellison today for a consultation as to your legal rights under the Access to Public Records Act.