emails

Sam Mellins filed this request with the New York State Office of Court Administration of New York.
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Appeal

Communications

From: Sam Mellins

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the New York Freedom of Information Law, I hereby request the following records:

All emails sent by ex-Chief Judge Janet DiFiore from June 1, 2022, to the date that her resignation as Chief Judge became effective.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 5 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Sam Mellins

From: New York State Office of Court Administration

The Office of Court Administration acknowledges receipt of your FOIL request dated 1/5/23, seeking:

All emails sent by ex-Chief Judge Janet DiFiore from June 1, 2022, to the date that her resignation as Chief Judge became effective.

The portion of your request seeking "all emails sent by ex-Chief Judge Janet DiFiore from July 1, 2022, to the date that her resignation as Chief Judge became effective" is denied pursuant to Public Officers Law § 89(3) which requires a request for records to be "reasonably described." Your request seeks "all" records without reference to specific individuals or external parties, and lacks a specific subject matter or search terms; as such, it does not "reasonably describe" the records requested. See Public Officers Law § 89(3)(a). The Committee on Open Government has explained that "a request for 'all' records, without limitation, that include a certain name, for example, might not be found to reasonably describe the records." (COOG AO-18863 (April 5, 2012), COOG AO 18949 (Aug. 20, 2012)).

Please note, you submitted the same request previously and it was answered on 11/10/22 (attached).

Pursuant to Public Officers Law § 89(4)(a), you have thirty (30) days to take a written appeal of this determination. You may appeal by writing:

Nancy J. Barry, Chief of Operations
FOIL Appeals Officer
25 Beaver Street, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10004

Or, you may submit such appeal by email to: FOILappeal@nycourts.gov<mailto:FOILappeal@nycourts.gov>

From: Sam Mellins

Hello,

I am appealing the denial of my FOIL request for "All emails sent by ex-Chief Judge Janet DiFiore from July 1, 2022, to the date that her resignation as Chief Judge became effective."

In denying my FOIL request, OCA cited Public Officers Law § 89(3) and (COOG AO-18863 (April 5, 2012), COOG AO 18949 (Aug. 20, 2012)) to justify their determination that my request was overly broad and did not sufficiently describe the records requested.

Public Officers Law § 89(3) states that records must be "reasonably described," which my request was, specifically requesting emails sent by one employee of OCA during a roughly one-month period.

COOG AO 18949 (accessible at https://docsopengovernment.dos.ny.gov/coog/ftext/2013/18949.html) states that "agency staff are not required to engage in herculean or unreasonable efforts in locating records to accommodate a person seeking records." In that opinion, the request in question would have required combing through 3,000 emails to find the correspondence between two specific individuals over an unbounded time period.

That is not the case here. I am rather requesting the emails sent by one government employee over a one-month period.

COOG also noted that agencies have property denied "requests for all email communications transmitted or received by a particular government officer or employee over a period of several years, without regard to subject matter or content." Again, the scope of this request is far narrower.

OCA did not state that it would require unreasonable, or even particularly extensive, effort, to complete this request. In the opinion cited by OCA, COOG wrote: "When an agency has the ability to locate and identify records sought in conjunction with its filing, indexing and retrieval mechanisms, it was found that a request meets the requirement of reasonably describing the records, irrespective of the volume of the request."

I believe that OCA has the ability to locate and identify the emails sent by its former chief over a one-month period. Accordingly, my appeal should be granted.

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