Keywords:  Public Records. Supervisor of Public Records. Police, Records. Constitutional Law, Access to criminal records. Regulation. Practice, Civil, Complaint.

[Excerpt] – “A convicted criminal has a statutory right to request public records concerning the crime he committed and to receive a response consistent with the public records law.  The plaintiff, Adam James Bradley, appeals from an order dismissing his complaint alleging violations of the public records law, G. L. c. 66, and various other claims.  The complaint alleged that the defendant, the records access officer (RAO) for the Department of State Police (department),[1] violated the public records law by ignoring Bradley’s requests for records, as well as two orders issued by the Commonwealth’s supervisor of records (supervisor) directing the RAO to respond.  A Superior Court judge allowed the RAO’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, and a judgment dismissing the complaint entered.  Because Bradley plausibly alleged violations of the public records law, we vacate in part the judgment, and remand the case for further proceedings.”

Also of note is the Appeals Court’s discussion of the often raised denial of a request on the basis that the requester has a unique right of access via another forum.  The Appeals Court decision calls into question the usefulness of that provision of the AG’s regulations.  The Court stated: “Based on ‘the plain language of the regulation,’ Theophilopoulos v. Board of Health of Salem, 85 Mass. App. Ct. 90, 101 (2014), we interpret the references to ‘a unique right of access’ as stating only that the procedures of public records law do not apply to other statutory, regulatory, or judicial processes that give individuals specific avenues for obtaining specific categories of records.. . . Requests for records under those regimes are not governed by the public records law, and are not subject to appeal to the supervisor. The references to ‘a unique right of access’ made it explicit that the supervisor has no authority with respect to the enforcement of rights of access outside the sphere of the public records law.”
This case warrants close review by municipal counsel.

DOWNLOAD the decision of the Appeals Court

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