Nebraska, USA

Nebraska Public Records Guide

Table of Contents

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

Overview

  • Super speedy statutorily-mandated response time
  • Specifically curtails records access in cases where it would affect federal funding
  • Applies to all branches of government

Nebraska’s law seems fine.

Feel free to go in and copy materials yourself

For those willing to take the time to bring a scanner into the agency, access to records should be charge-free.

Expect some response within four days

With one of the shortest response periods in the nation, expect some sort of reply from the agency within four business days.

There may not be an administrative appeal, but custodians can face criminal penalties

If a court finds that a denial was improperly issued, the custodian at fault faces a Class III misdemeanor charge and the potential loss of his or her position.

The Law

  • 4-day response time
  • Applies to all divisions of the government.
  • Residents and non-residents may submit requests.

Supplemental

Nebraska Open Meetings Act - N.R.S. 84-1407

State and local record retention schedules

The Details

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

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

To whom does this apply?

Executive?

Yes.

Judicial?

Yes.

Legislative?

Yes.

Is there a designated records custodian?

There is no provision necessitating the designation of a records official for each agency. Requests should be made to the person with custody of the record. If that is unknown, requests may be made to the head of the agency.

Who is exempted?

No government agency is specifically exempted. In addition to the usual governmental suspects—the executive, legislative, and judicial branches—the act includes the records of the “state, any county, city, village, political subdivision, or tax-supported district in this state, or any agency, branch, department, board, bureau, commission, council, subunit, or committee of any of the foregoing.” N.R.S. 84-712.01

How can requests be submitted?

In-person?

Yes, in-person may be accepted. However, as always, written requests are preferable.

Verbally?

Yes, oral requests are accepted. However, as always, written requests are preferable.

By mail?

Yes, written requests are accepted.

By email?

Yes.

How long do they have to respond?

4 business days. By the end of the fourth business day, the agency must either let the requester see the record, provide him or her with a copy, provide him or her written notification of why the record is not yet available and a date and time when it will be, or provide the requester with written notification of why the record request is being denied, referencing the specific statute supporting the denial.

“Upon receipt of a written request for access to or copies of a public record, the custodian of such record shall provide to the requester as soon as is practicable and without delay, but not more than four business days after actual receipt of the request, an estimate of the expected cost of the copies and either (a) access to or, if copying equipment is reasonably available, copies of the public record, (b) if there is a legal basis for denial of access or copies, a written denial of the request together with the information specified in section 84-712.04, or (c) if the entire request cannot with reasonable good faith efforts be fulfilled within four business days after actual receipt of the request due to the significant difficulty or the extensiveness of the request, a written explanation, including the earliest practicable date for fulfilling the request, an estimate of the expected cost of any copies, and an opportunity for the requester to modify or prioritize the items within the request. The requester shall have ten business days to review the estimated costs, including any special service charge, and request the custodian to fulfill the original request, negotiate with the custodian to narrow or simplify the request, or withdraw the request. If the requester does not respond to the custodian within ten business days, the custodian shall not proceed to fulfill the request. The four business days shall be computed by excluding the day the request is received, after which the designated period of time begins to run. Business day does not include a Saturday, a Sunday, or a day during which the offices of the custodian of the public records are closed.” N.R.S. 84-712.04

Are there provisions regarding the extension of response times?

The agency may state that additional time is needed and provide an estimated date of completion.

“[I]f the entire request cannot with reasonable good faith efforts be fulfilled within four business days after actual receipt of the request due to the significant difficulty or the extensiveness of the request, a written explanation, including the earliest practicable date for fulfilling the request, an estimate of the expected cost of any copies, and an opportunity for the requester to modify or prioritize the items within the request.” N.R.S. 84-712.04

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

No and yes. While there is no specific mention of tracking numbers, the law does state that a date and time at which the records may be had must be provided.

Can they ask why you ask?

No, the purpose of the request doesn’t typically matter when a request is made.

What enforcement?

Though there are no provisions for an administrative appeal option, an informal appeal to the head of the agency may prove effective. The law provides for judicial relief by filing a writ of mandamus in the district court. One may also petition the Attorney General. NRS 84-712.03

Further, any official who is found to have violated the law is subject to removal. NRS 84-712.09

Fees?

Individuals that wish to inspect and make copies on their own equipment may do so at no additional cost. Agencies can charge fees, but they must not exceed the actual costs to provide the record. The agency shall not charge for the first four hours of staff time; after that time, a special service fee may be charged, but it may not include the cost of an attorney to review the materials. NRS 84-712.03(c)

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

The law doesn’t address fee waivers.

Attorney’s fees - Can you win them?

The court may award a prevailing complainant reasonable attorney’s fees.

“In any case in which the complainant seeking access has substantially prevailed, the court may assess against the public body which had denied access to their records, reasonable attorney fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred by the complainant.” NRS 84-712.07

Exemptions and Appeals

What exemptions exist?

There is a presumption that all records are public. However, statutes and court cases have combined to create specific exempted categories.

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

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

“Any reasonably segregable public portion of a record shall be provided to the public as a public record upon request after deletion of the portions which may be withheld.” NRS 84-712.06

How much time do you have to appeal?

If an agency fails to respond with the statutorily-mandated four business days, further inquiry is permitted. There is no specific time limit imposed for appealing a denial in court, though generally in Nevada, suit must be brought within four years.

To whom does the appeal go?

There is no administrative appeal option provided. Court action may be taken at the district court in the jurisdiction in which the request was made.

Can you appeal a delay?

Delay as a denial is not specifically addressed, though if a custodian provides some letter within the required four days, delay will not be treated as a denial, as far as appeals are concerned.

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 at the district court in the jurisdiction in which the request was made.

Where else can you turn?

One may attempt an informal appeal to the head of the agency, petition the Attorney General, or file suit in court. NRS 84-712.03

Are all appeals kept officially?

Court records cannot be destroyed out of keeping with the retention scheduled. There is no administrative appeal option, but presumably all informal appeals or Attorney General petitions must be kept in keeping with the retention schedule.

Resources

Organizations

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

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 Nebraska

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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
122 Filed
66 Completed
3 Rejected
28 No Responsive Documents
5 Awaiting Response
7 Requiring Action
5 Overdue
Appeals
None
Allowed Response Time
4 days
Average Response Time
16 days
Success Rate
49.18%
Average Fee
$704.64
9.84% of requests have a fee

Top Agencies See All

Agency Requests Pages Released
Lincoln Police Department 55 185
Nebraska State Patrol 49 206
Omaha Police Department 47 309
Department of Correctional Services 29 112
Office of the Attorney General - Nebraska 24 764
Office of the Governor - Nebraska 18 633
Nebraska Emergency Management Agency 11 79
Department of Health and Human Services 8 4
Nebraska Department of Administrative Services 8 208
Department of Environmental Quality 8 1

Top Localities See All

Jurisdiction Requests Pages Released
Lincoln, NE 56 189
Omaha, NE 56 313
Henderson, NE 1 0
Douglas County, NE 1 0
Oakland, NE 0 0
Holbrook, NE 0 0
Bismark, NE 0 0
Firth, NE 0 0
Cedar, NE 0 0
Maple, NE 0 0