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PR 14-13B Fitzgerald v. Warwick Police Department

In Fitzgerald v. Warwick Police Department, PR 14-13, we concluded that the Police Department violated the APRA when it assessed a "flat fee" of $5.00 per report in response to an APRA request seeking reports and records pertaining to two (2) individuals. The sole issue to be addressed in this supplemental finding was whether the instant violation was willful and knowing, or reckless Although the Complainant (a criminal defense attorney) no doubt made an APRA request, the fact that the Police Department may have handled the request in a manner consistent with a request made by a criminal defense attorney and provided access to documents that the APRA would have exempted (or not required to be created) provides sufficient doubt that the violation discussed in Fitzgerald rose to the level necessary to file a civil lawsuit. As a practical matter, the Police Department could have lawfully denied the APRA request, which would have required the Complainant to seek access to the requested documents as a criminal defense attorney and not under the APRA. Under this scenario, the $5.00 per report fee would not have been improper and we find that it is imprudent to file a lawsuit against the Police Department for essentially treating this as a criminal defense matter and providing access to documents/information that the Complainant would not be entitled to under the APRA.

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