The Office of Attorney General announced that the Town of North Kingstown has entered into a consent judgment acknowledging it violated the state's Access to Public Records Act (APRA) when it failed to provide a response to an APRA request filed by William Mudge dated March 15, 2017 as required by statute. Under the terms of the consent judgment, the Town agreed to pay a $1,000 civil fine to the State of Rhode Island.
The Office of Attorney General filed the APRA lawsuit against the Town in November 2017.
Under the APRA, a public body has 10 business days to respond to a request for documents (R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-7). If the public body denies the request, a written response detailing the specific reasons for the denial shall be sent within those 10 business days to the person or entity making the request (R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-7(a)). If no response is sent within 10 business days, the lack of response will be deemed a denial (R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-7(b)}. If, for good cause, the public body cannot comply with a records request within 10 business days, then the public body may extend the period an additional 20 business days, for a total of 30 business days (R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 38-2-7(a) and 38-2-3(e)).
The investigation into the APRA complaint revealed that the Town of North Kingstown failed to respond to the APRA request within ten (10) business days. In fact, the Town responded to the APRA request only after Mr. Mudge filed an APRA complaint with the Department of Attorney General.
"This consent agreement resolves the issue of the Town of North Kingstown and hopefully serves as a reminder that all public bodies have a statutory obligation to comply with the State's open government laws and that citizens deserve and rightfully expect their government to be accessible, transparent and always compliant with the law," said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin.