Arizona, USA

Arizona Public Records Guide

Table of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. The Law
  3. Resources
  4. Stats

The Law

  • No statutorily-specific number of days to respond.
  • Residents and non-residents may submit requests.
  • Those that prevail in court are entitled to attorney’s fees.

Supplemental

Definition of public records - A.R.S. § 39-121

Public meetings law -A.R.S. § 38-431

The Details

Can you submit a request if you’re not a resident?

Yes. Arizona law currently has no provision dictating a residency requirement.

To whom does this apply?

Executive?

Yes.

Judicial?

Yes, the definition of “public body” used by the act seems to include all branches of the government and bodies using money from those bodies.

“”Public body” means the state, any county, city, town, school district, political subdivision or tax-supported district in the state, any branch, department, board, bureau, commission, council or committee of the foregoing, and any public organization or agency, supported in whole or in part by monies from the state or any political subdivision of the state, or expending monies provided by the state or any political subdivision of the state.” - A.R.S. § 39-121.01

Legislative?

Yes, the definition of “public body” used by the act seems to include all branches of the government and bodies using money from those bodies.

“”Public body” means the state, any county, city, town, school district, political subdivision or tax-supported district in the state, any branch, department, board, bureau, commission, council or committee of the foregoing, and any public organization or agency, supported in whole or in part by monies from the state or any political subdivision of the state, or expending monies provided by the state or any political subdivision of the state.” - A.R.S. § 39-121.01

Is there a designated records custodian?

Though the law doesn’t necessitate the appointment of a records custodian for each agency, it is expected that all state employees and their agencies will maintain their records.

Who is exempted?

There are no agencies that are specifically exempted in whole.

How can requests be submitted?

In-person?

Requests may be made in-person or orally, but rejected requests will need to be re-submitted in writing in order to pursue court action.

Verbally?

Requests may be made in-person or orally, but rejected requests will need to be re-submitted in writing in order to pursue court action.

By mail?

Yes, written requests are accepted.

By email?

Yes.

How long do they have to respond?

There is no specific timeframe in which agencies must respond, but the courts have determined that the use of the word “promptly” in the law means that materials must be furnished as quickly as possible.

Are there provisions regarding the extension of response times?

There is no specific timeframe in which agencies must respond.

Does the agency have to give you a tracking number or estimated date of completion?

No and no. There is no specific mention of either.

Can they ask why you ask?

No, the purpose of the request doesn’t typically matter when a request is made. However, those requests made for commercial reasons without disclosing the commercial nature of the request will be subjected to penalties. - A.R.S. § 39-121.03

What enforcement?

There are no administrative appeals options. However, you can take the matter to court. Those with prevailing challenges may be awarded attorney fees. - A.R.S. § 39-121.02

Fees?

Agencies can charge fees, except for those records being requested with the intention of being presented to the U.S. government or a division thereof in relation to a claim, insurance, or other benefits. A.R.S. § 39-121.02

Are there fee waivers for media requests or those made in the public interest?

No.

Attorney’s fees - Can you win them?

Yes, you may.

“The court may award attorney fees and other legal costs that are reasonably incurred in any action under this article if the person seeking public records has substantially prevailed. Nothing in this subsection shall limit the rights of any party to recover attorney fees, expenses and double damages pursuant to section 12-349.” - A.R.S. § 39-121.02

Exemptions and Appeals

What exemptions exist?

There is a presumption that all records are public, though there are certain materials deemed confidential by agencies.

Do they have to tell you why a portion or pages were redacted or withheld?

Yes. And if elements are exempt, nonexempt parts must be provided.

How much time do you have to appeal?

There is no time limit.

To whom does the appeal go?

There is no administrative appeal option provided. Court action may be taken.

Can you appeal a delay?

Yes.

“Access to a public record is deemed denied if a custodian fails to promptly respond to a request for production of a public record or fails to provide to the requesting person an index of any record or categories of records that are withheld from production pursuant to subsection D, paragraph 2 of this section.” - A.R.S. § 39-121.01

Do agencies have to tell you where to send your appeal?

There is no administrative appeal option.

What if your appeal is denied?

There is no administrative appeal option provided. Court action may be taken.

Where else can you turn?

One might try turning to the Arizona Ombudsman.

Are all appeals kept officially?

Court records cannot be destroyed out of keeping with the retention schedule. There is no administrative appeal option, so there are no official appeals of that sort to keep.

Resources

Organizations

The following organizations offer resources for those seeking public records in Arizona.

Attorneys and Law Firms

The following attorneys and law firms have practiced public records law. Names marked with an asterisk have indicated a willingness to offer pro bono services on a case by case basis.

Successful appeals

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News Stories on Public Records Laws in the State

Submit a new link

Blogs and feeds primarily focused on public records in Arizona

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Public Records Guide and Advice

Newsletters

Big FOIA wins

Have a public records success story? Let us know!

Stats

Request Record
331 Filed
122 Completed
12 Rejected
59 No Responsive Documents
37 Awaiting Acknowledgement
30 Awaiting Response
40 Requiring Action
Appeals
1 appeal awaiting response
Allowed Response Time
No limit
Average Response Time
73 days
Success Rate
32.02%
Average Fee
$40.13
12.39% of requests have a fee

Top Agencies See All

Agency Requests Pages Released
Town of Florence, Arizona 3,723 9,203
Department of Transportation 199 302
Department of Corrections 132 2,433
Glendale Police Department 129 157
Maricopa County Sheriff 79 7
Mesa Police Department 48 108
Chandler Police Department 46 262
Department of Public Safety 44 1,008
Gilbert Police Department 44 194
Tucson Police Department 35 146

Top Localities See All

Jurisdiction Requests Pages Released
Florence, AZ 3,731 9,217
Glendale, AZ 129 157
Maricopa County, AZ 82 14
Phoenix, AZ 68 234
Mesa, AZ 50 108
Gilbert, AZ 48 238
Chandler, AZ 46 262
Tucson, AZ 39 150
Gila County, AZ 26 1,502
Golden Valley, AZ 26 5