Michigan, USA

Michigan Public Records Guide

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


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 had 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


The Details

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


To whom does this apply?


Yes, but Governor is exempt.


Yes, but individual members are exempt.



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?


Can they ask why you ask?


What enforcement?


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


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.



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


Let us know

Big FOIA wins

Have a public records success story? Let us know!


Request Record
245 Filed
83 Completed
30 Rejected
52 No Responsive Documents
15 Awaiting Acknowledgement
19 Awaiting Response
12 Requiring Action
29 Overdue
1 appeal awaiting response
Allowed Response Time
5 days
Average Response Time
47 days
Success Rate
Average Fee
14.69% of requests have a fee

Top Agencies See All

Agency Requests Pages Released
Michigan Department of Attorney General 104 1,262
Detroit Police Department 74 338
Michigan State Police 72 400
Department of Environmental Quality 58 519
Department of Corrections 38 608
Michigan Department of Education 37 142
University of Michigan 24 114
Oakland County Sheriff's Office 18 15
Michigan Secretary of State 17 41
Department of Military and Veterans Affairs 14 327

Top Localities See All

Jurisdiction Requests Pages Released
Detroit, MI 110 741
Oakland County, MI 25 27
Lansing, MI 23 14
Ottawa County, MI 17 411
Ann Arbor, MI 16 219
Calhoun County, MI 15 476
Ionia County, MI 14 87
Dearborn, MI 12 110
Kent County, MI 8 77
Barry County, MI 7 12