Florida has some of the broadest public records and open meetings laws in the country, commonly referred to as “Government in the Sunshine.” Floridians believe so strongly in these principles that they amended the state constitution to enshrine access to public records and meetings as a presumption for all citizens. Following the people’s mandate, the Legislature enacted Sunshine Law requirements that state and local government employees, elected officials, state officers, and those who sit on governmental boards and councils must receive annual training in public records, open meetings, and ethics.
Marks Gray attorneys have years of experience in representing, advising, training,and defending cities and counties in public records and public meetings training, compliance, and litigation. There are more exemptions than ever for records custodians and elected officials to apply and there is more litigation than ever from citizens, open government advocates, and public records watchdogs. Records custodian’s duties in receiving, acknowledging, responding to, and tracking requests for public records have become more complex and more essential than ever. Even the most basic records requests can be overwhelming and seem insurmountable. Our attorneys can provide an efficient, effective plan for your specific needs in each situation.
- Document retention
- Exemption review
- On-call advice and consultation
- Tracking records requests
- Fees for providing records
- How and when to acknowledge a request
- How to deal with hostile records trolls
- Mediating disputes between custodians and records requesters
Section 112.3142 of the Florida Statutes requires constitutional offices to complete four (4) hours of ethics training each year covering state ethics code, Florida public record, and open meetings laws. Marks Gray’s Sunshine Law attorneys counsel and advise clients–both records custodians, records requestors, and news media when seeking access to records. Many times, Marks Gray attorneys can help all concerned avoid disputes and litigation. When needed, our Sunshine Law attorneys have been in court many times regarding public records and open meetings. Our attorneys bring deep experience and understanding of best practices for requestors seeking maximum access to records and meetings and for custodians charged with compliance.
The best defense to public records and open meetings lawsuits is to implement a comprehensive policy. Our attorneys can provide a review of current policies, identify potential risks, and recommend best practices for receiving, processing, and responding to records requests to simplify the process and minimize risks of lawsuits.
Marks Gray offers:
- Department-specific training on application of exemptions
- Document retention policy reviews
- Department-specific issues: HR, police, council, public works and planning
- Guidance on common mistakes and how to avoid them
- Pre-litigation dispute resolution to help ensure maximum access to records and meetings and enhance compliance