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Knowing what public officials do is critical for good public policy.  We’ve all watched how fact-free arguments have divided and radicalized people.  The Press is under siege from those who do not want the Press to expose true facts.  An important tool to shed light on what is happening is Oregon’s Public Records Law.

Business uses public information to provide better and more useful services and products for Oregonians.

Oregon’s Public Records Law tells public bodies what records it must keep and what records it must provide upon request.  People agree on the goals: citizens should know what our government is doing and why, researchers should have access to public information, and business should employ public data to benefit their consumers, investors and the public.

In practice, it is more complicated because government holds a vast amount of information.  Exceptions to the rule of disclosure include personal medical information of Medicaid recipients, records of undercover law enforcement vehicles, and the location of endangered species.  Oregon’s Attorney General has cataloged more than 550 “exemptions.”

I believe it is important for the public to understand their rights and for agencies to understand their duties with respect to public records. So, I created this resource.  Click on the headings below for more information on each topic.

Table of Contents

Part One:  The Law as of 2018

1.   What is a public record?

2.   How much does it cost to get public records?

3.   How do I request public records in Oregon?

4.   When and how must the public body respond?

5.   Disagreements between Requester and Public Body:

A.   Mediation (or “facilitated dispute resolution”)

B.   Appeal and Lawsuit

Part Two:  Recent Developments in Oregon Public Records Law.

6.   Oregon Public Records Law Problems and Responses, 2014-2016

7.   2017 Action on Oregon’s Public Records Law:

Part 1:   Public Records Advisory Council and Advocate

Part 2:   Laws Addressing Exemptions

Part 3:   Data and Chief Data Officer

Part 4:   State Archivist Training and Mediation

If you need legal help with a public records law matter, please feel free to contact me.

©2018 by Merrick Law, LLC and Jeff Merrick. The above is not intended as legal advice. It is for general information purposes only. Reading it or attempting to contact me does not mean I am your attorney. I only represent people after we sign a written contract.

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