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PR 20-23B Brien v. City of Woonsocket

In PR 20-23, this Office concluded that the City violated the APRA when its initial response to Complainant's request did not provide any specific reasons for the denial and instead only made the general assertion that the withheld documents were not public records. We directed the City to provide a supplemental submission providing any and all documents responsive to the Complainant's request for an in camera review and addressing why the City's belated assertion of an exemption should not be deemed waived. The City provided a supplemental submission explaining that it had conducted a search and, despite previously asserting the requested documents were exempt, did not actually maintain any responsive records that had not already been provided to the Complainant. We accordingly determined that the City violated the APRA by failing to indicate that it not did maintain responsive records when responding to the request, but that no injunctive relief was necessary. Although a close question, we declined to find that the violation in this instance was willful and knowing, or reckless.

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