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PR 18-25 Handy Law v. Coastal Resources Management Council Violation

The Complainant alleged that the CRMC violated the APRA when it withheld requested documents pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 38-2-2(4)(K). The CRMC maintained that we should find no violation because the Complainant had not followed the CRMC's APRA procedures, but as best as we could tell, the APRA request ultimately ended up in the correct location and was handled according to the CRMC's procedures. While there certainly are instances where failure to adhere to a public body's APRA procedures will effectively invalidate a request for documents, the specific facts here counseled reaching the merits of the complaint. Turning to the gravamen of the complaint, we noted that other than broadly asserting that 38-2-2(4)(K) is implicated, the CRMC never explained in their initial response to the Complainant, their response to the Complainant's appeal, or in their substantive response to this Department which particular subset of this APRA exemption is applicable. Their failure to do so was inconsistent with the CRMC's burden under R.I. Gen. Laws 38-2-10. We therefore concluded that the CRMC's failure to release the requested documents violated the APRA. The CRMC was directed to disclose the documents.

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