For the past year, MuckRock has been working on an appeal tool to help anyone understand public records rejections, see their options, and file a successful appeal. Now, we’re asking for FOIA hounds everywhere to help out: Send us your successful appeals!
One thing we’ve learned over the past few years is that, in jurisdictions that have an administrative appeals process, appealing rejections often works really well. But for many people, even experienced requesters, knowing where to start can be a challenge: What citations do you need to include? How do you word an appeal in a particular jurisdiction? When is it actually worth appealing?
So we’ve started building up a database. Our goal is to eventually have information on every single exemption in use in every state, including both formal and informal reasons for denial. But we’d also like a solid database of appeal language that people can pull from to push back when their requests are improperly rejected.
We’ll track how often various appeal strategies work and include data on when and when not to use a certain appeal. At the end of next year, we’ll compile all the data on what we’ve learned and share it publicly, leading to a better understanding of how effective the appeals processes are across the country and hopefully resulting in better legislation to help keep government open and accountable.
But first, we need your help. If you’ve filed a successful appeal, whether at the state or federal level, please share it, either in the form below or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll publicly credit you for your submission (unless you’d like to remain anonymous), and your appeal language will be able to benefit everyone: The appeal tool is now built into both MuckRock and FOIA Machine, and appeals are publicly browsable (no account required!) on MuckRock (see a sample).
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