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How is the theme chosen for each year's National FOI Day?
Does the First Amendment guarantee a general 'right of access' to government information?
Who can file a FOIA request?
How long does it take to get information under FOIA?
Can I request information from my congressman through FOIA?
What information cannot be obtained through FOIA?
How do you appeal a denial of information under FOIA?
How can I find out more about the open records act in my state?
Must a federal agency produce records in an electronic format if asked to?
What are open-meetings laws?
Aren’t open-meetings laws unconstitutional? After all, don’t they infringe upon the speech of the members of governing bodies?
How do states deal with violations of open-meetings laws?
Many states and municipalities are now webcasting public meetings. Can they forbid reproduction of the meeting videos by members of the public?
Are city councils and similar public bodies required to have periods for public comment at meetings?
How can I find out more about the open meetings act in my state?
Can public officials violate state open-meetings laws by sending e-mails?

Yes, they can, but the answer may vary depending on the particular state law and on how simultaneous the e-mail communications are. A threshold issue under a state open-meeting law is how many members it takes communicating with each other before there is a “meeting.” Another key issue is whether the e-mail messaging concerns actual policy deliberating or decision-making, or whether the e-mails are merely conveying factual information back and forth. Another important issue is whether the government officials are e-mailing each other back and forth in simultaneous fashion. For example, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in Beck v. Shelton (2004) that e-mailing between government officials could constitute a meeting and trigger the open-meetings law, but only if the e-mails were exchanged simultaneously, such as in a chat room or through instant messaging.

Do state open-meeting laws specifically address e-mail communications?
Do court transcripts fall under FOI? Can they be withheld from litigants?
Are states making court records available electronically for the public?
Does the public have access to documents such as water-quality, toxic-waste and bridge-safety reports?
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Last system update: Thursday, November 13, 2008 | 23:10:39
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