Public Access Opinion 15-008

Redacting Attorney/Client Discussions

Freedom of Information Act - FOIA
Case: Public Access Opinion 15-008
Date: Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The public body violated section 3(d) of FOIA by failing to respond to a request for records within five business days without a written agreement to extend the time for compliance.

The calendar the public body produced qualifies as a public record under section 2 (c) of FOIA. An employee of the public body prepared and maintained the calendar. The public body used the calendar to schedule official meetings and other governmental events. Additionally, an unspecified number of members of the public body had access to the calendar.

The public body violated the requirements of FOIA by failing to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that portions of the records are exempt from disclosure under section 7(1)(f)(exemption for predecisional and deliberative material) or section 7(1)(m). The public body did not meet its burden to redact information pursuant to 7(1)(m) because it failed to demonstrate that the redacted information could reveal the substance of confidential attorney-client discussions. The simple presence of an attorney in a meeting is not enough to demonstrate that section 7(1)(m) applies.

This opinion is binding only to the parties involved and may be appealed pursuant to State law.

Shanell M. Bowden, IASB Law Clerk