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Freedom of Information Questions

What is the Freedom of Information Act?

The Freedom of Information Act is a federal law that permits people to view information and documents that are controlled by the United States government. President Lyndon Johnson signed the act into law on July 4, 1966 and the law went into effect the next year.

There is Freedom of Information Acts (FOIA) which is passed by individual states. While there are similarities in the state FOIA, they are not exact and shouldn't be confused with the Federal Freedom of Information Act.

Due to the ever growing belief that American citizens had constitutional and inherent rights, many believed that government information should be made available to the public upon request. While it was understood that the citizens had rights to certain information, there were others who felt that some government information should remain unviewed by the public. Congress moved to enact a Freedom of Information Act that would maintain the requests for certain government records on the "Right to Know' basis.

Are there fees for FOIA requests and what are the steps to file?

There are three steps to filing a freedom of information request (FOIA). Step 1- While some agencies offer electronic filing, many FOIA request forms must be written. If you have several requests for information, you may consider making a request template that can be used for multiple uses. At the top of your letter, you will need to write Freedom of Information Act Request. This will ensure your request will reach the correct destination. Next you need to list the records or documents that you are wanting in clear concise words. If you are vague, my may not get the desired results that you are hoping for. Also, when you are clear on the information that you are wanting, it will probably cost less for the search. You will also need to state that you will pay the processing fee, but make sure you list the max amount that you are willing to pay. For example, please inform me if the processing fee attached to my request will exceed $25 before processing. I am willing to pay the processing fee if the amount is less than $25. Another option would be to ask that you be called to discuss the processing fee before your request is processed. You will need to list your mail address, day time telephone number and your email address.

Step 2- Finding the agency that would have the information that you are searching for.

This will need to be determined before you file a request. If you are unsure of which agency will have this information, you can follow the link provided and search the list of contact information. http://www.foia.gov/

Step 3- Submit the Request

Before you mail your request, make sure all of the information is correct. Also, you may want to check with the agencies and see if they allow for the requests to be received by fax. This will save you postage. If fax options are not available, just mail your request. It generally takes about 30 days for the agencies to respond to the request.

I have requested information under the Freedom of Information Act from the U.S. Department of Education. How long should I wait to receive the information or get a response from them?

The Education department is entitled to take up to 20 days to decide whether or not they will allow your request. This decision is under the 5 United States Code § 552(a) (6) If the education department feels that your request is an unusual circumstance, they will take an extension in the time in which they respond. To get a better understanding of what is meant by "unusual circumstances" you may want to read the code in its entirety. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/5/552

Under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, can a person obtain and/or review a police investigation report if the person is not related to the person who is incarcerated?

Typically, the answer to this question would be yes. However, there are certain parts of these records which cannot be viewed. The records that cannot be shown are those that:

interfere with law enforcement proceedings;

deprive a person of the right to a fair trial or impartial administrative Adjudication;

constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;

disclose the identity of a confidential source or, if the record is compiled by a criminal law enforcement agency in the course of a criminal investigation, disclose confidential information furnished only by a confidential source;

disclose law enforcement investigative techniques or procedures; or

endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel

If the records don't fall under any of these circumstances and the police refuse to release them, you can file a Writ of Mandamus with the court to have the records released.

A freedom of information request is a form that enables the public to view government files and records. If you have questions pertaining to a FOIA request, you should ask an Expert to assist you in making the right choice for your individual situation.

Ask a Lawyer

Tina
Tina, Lawyer
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 8603
Experience:  JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
4460311
Type Your Legal Question Here...
characters left:
6 Lawyers are Online Now

How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
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    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Lawyers are online & ready to help you now

Tina
Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 8436
JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
Ely
Counselor at Law
Satisfied Customers: 19941
Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
FiveStarLaw
Attorney
Satisfied Customers: 8189
25 years of experience helping people like you.

Recent Freedom of Information Questions

  • BACKGROUND: I live in Texas, USA. During my renovation of the

    BACKGROUND: I live in Texas, USA. During my renovation of the home I discovered rotting and moldy substrate hidden by the supposedly fine floor evident when I purchased the home. I have clear evidence that the company that installed the floor violated building codes when they installed the floor; and that this violation caused the rot and mold infestation. I have suffered damages in the form of extra renovation expense due to the improper installation. I want to submit a claim against the installation company.
    QUESTION: Will the installer's liability insurance policy exclude coverage for their "negligence" citing building code violations during the installation?
  • actually I think I have two contract questions.to beeggin I

    actually I think I have two contract questions.to beeggin I had owned my home since 96 I got a devorce in 07 and refied my home with BofA. in 2010 I started apliing for loan mod.i was declined in wrighting once.i continuded applying programs send
    ing
    paperwork on request in augest of 2012 I retained brookstone law to represent me in class action against b of a they sold me on statement saying that judge had already found b of a guilty of many infractions and had awarded $.in may of 2013 b of a filed letter of defalt but no sale date because I was in negotations with them.in sept. I got a sale date so I retained brookstone to file bk and paid for it in full on sept 18. we had descust options available to me. we decided chapter 7 was best because I owed 800,000 in dett.and we would file bk on day before sale date to give me more time to find mod. and then if I couldn't get mod we would refile chapter 13 to save house.bank postponed sale 3 times because we were in negotiations on mod.nov 15 I told brookstone that I needed them to file bk because I needed wage garnishment lifted so he called my employer and had it lifted so I beleaved he had filed bk. next week I called and asked sect for bk number for electric co,she gave me a nuber so again I assumed he had filed on dec 6 I rescieved a phone call telling me house had been sold at auction.brookstone had nothing to say ecsept for a price they could prolong eviction. in febuary I need bk filed still they wouldn't return my money and I couldn't afford to pay for another bk lawyer so I asked them to file the pertion was throw out twice because they didn't provid requested paperwork in march I had to retain different firm for bk. they still have not returned any moneis to me I lost three hundred thousand dollars in equity I spen ten thousand on class action ,1850 on bk they continued to take money monthly until june 2014 with no corispondense between us I got no written or verbal deniel from bof a.theres a lot more to it bbutt what do u think
  • I am a freelance graphic web/designer. I've had only 1 bad

    I am a freelance graphic web/designer. I've had only 1 bad account in the 5 years that I've been freelancing and after 3 years of struggling to make things right with this one bad account, I still cannot.
    Three years ago, I hired a developer (who I had worked with in the past and was successful in completing all other projects) to help with a large e-commerce site for a client. The project was estimated at $5,000 and was expected to be completed in 4-5 months.
    For the first few months everything seemed to be going fairly smooth and the client paid at the agreed upon sprints after we showed her the progress made. At the end things seemed to drag (as they sometimes do). However, more features began popping up that needed to be done; things that he had not been realized needed to be done at the beginning of the project.
    Turns out that well after the last payment there was a world of work that was not yet been completed. My developer had estimated the project way too low on cost and time. What was at first considered to be a 5 month project turned into a year and a half. I tried to get him to finish as much as he could - he worked for about a year in between jobs to try to finishs it but to my dismay he finally gave up. There is still a lot more to do and I don't have money to hire someone to do it.
    In that time the client got angry (as would be expected) and I tried with all my abilit to do things for her: I designed marketing collateral items - business cards, stickers, a sign, I even built her a bigcommerce ecommerce site to give her something to work with.
    It seems that everything I've done does not please her. She is insistent on getting exactly what she ordered (again, completely understandable). I worked very hard on a deal with a different developer and I finally reached deal to finish the site. He's been working on the site since this summer and is currently a couple months past his estimated delivery date. He is still working on it.
    She just sent me an email demanding that I redesign all the pages to the website to match current design trends and she is also demanding that the site be finished faster than it currently is. She has threatened with lawsuits, ect but I cannot make those pages for her with the workload I have now.
    My question is: what is the worst thing that she could do to me if she were to get angry when I tell her I can't do everything she is asking and she threatens me with action? I currently don't have any money in the bank (business or personal) and I don't own a house.
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