Michigan, USA

Michigan Public Records Guide

Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

MCL 15.231 et. seq.

Enacted in 1977

Note: For state agencies and employees, Michigan has a comprehensive contact directory available here.

Overview

Michigan’s public records law drew considerable attention during the Flint Water Crisis, when national attention turned the spotlight on the exemption of the Governor’s office. While the subsequent – and so far unheeded – calls for reform presented this as a blight on the state’s otherwise sterling reputation for transparency, it’s actually entirely in keeping with the Michigan FOIA’s approach of broad application with specific carve outs.

For example - the offices of the legislature is covered, but individual members are exempt. Any private entity that primarily operates on public funding is covered, except for certain offices of entirely-publicly funded state universities. The definition of “record” is broadly considered to be anything written – including recordings, interesting enough – but with a specific carve out for computer programs. This applies to even who can request records – even though Michigan doesn’t have a citizenship requirement, it does exempt individuals who are currently incarcerated – regardless of which state they’re incarcerated in.

This edge-case friendly approach makes it hard to have any useful generalizations about the law works, and necessitates, more than most, a familiarity with the law. Anticipate pitfalls, and get ready to push back, or find another way to get what you’re looking for.

The Law

  • Prompt response time required, usually within several days
  • No administrative appeal
  • Awards attorneys fees and possibly punitive fees of $100 per day

Supplemental

The Details

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

Yes.

To whom does this apply?

Executive?

Yes, but Governor is exempt.

Legislative?

Yes, but individual members are exempt.

Judicial?

Yes.

Who is exempted?

Check list for specific examples.

Is there a designated records custodian?

Not required.

How long do they have to respond?

While there is not set deadline, agencies are expected to respond promptly.

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

No.

Can they ask why you ask?

No.

What enforcement?

Fees?

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

No.

Attorney’s fees - Can you win them?

Yes, provided you win your appeal in court.

Exemptions and Appeals

What exemptions exist?

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

Public offices must either “notify the requester of any redaction or make the redaction plainly visible.”

How much time do you have to appeal?

Not applicable.

Can you appeal to the courts?

Yes, litigation is the only resource for rejected requests.

Resources

Organizations

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.

There are currently no experienced public records law attorneys that we know of in Missouri. Write to us at info@MuckRock.com if you know of any and want to help us out!

Successful appeals

News Stories on Public Records Laws in the State

Blogs and feeds primarily focused on public records in Missouri

Public Records Guide and Advice

Newsletters

Let us know

Big FOIA wins

Have a public records success story? Let us know!

Stats

Request Record
1165 Filed
376 Completed
113 Rejected
151 No Responsive Documents
87 Awaiting Acknowledgement
87 Awaiting Response
112 Requiring Action
160 Overdue
Appeals
6 appeals awaiting response
Allowed Response Time
5 days
Average Response Time
42 days
Success Rate
30.04%
Average Fee
$3187.71
21.03% of requests have a fee

Top Agencies See All

Agency Requests Pages Released
Detroit Police Department 109 1,520
Michigan State Police 78 752
University of Michigan 38 310
Department of Corrections 34 2,327
Michigan Department of Attorney General 28 2,780
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services 25 257
City of Detroit 24 847
Oakland County Sheriff's Office 20 436
Office of the Governor 18 11
Michigan State University 18 548

Top Localities See All

Jurisdiction Requests Pages Released
Detroit, MI 200 3,128
Wayne County, MI 29 1,877
Oakland County, MI 27 459
Flint, MI 24 134
Lansing, MI 23 168
Ann Arbor, MI 21 296
Calhoun County, MI 13 506
Dearborn, MI 11 124
Kalamazoo County, MI 9 312
Washtenaw County, MI 9 90