November 28, 2005


I have received your letter in which you appealed a denial of access to records involving the racial composition of several juries.

In this regard, the Committee on Open Government is authorized to provide advice and opinions pertaining to the Freedom of Information Law. The Committee is not empowered to determine appeals or otherwise compel an agency to grant or deny access to records. The provision dealing with the right to appeal, §89(4)(a) of the Freedom of Information Law, states in relevant part that:

"...any person denied access to a record may within thirty days appeal in writing such denial to the head, chief executive or governing body of the entity, or the person therefor designated by such head, chief executive, or governing body, who shall within ten business days of the receipt of such appeal fully explain in writing to the person requesting the record the reasons for further denial, or provide access to the records sought. In addition, each agency shall immediately forward to the committee on open government a copy of such appeal and the ensuing determination thereon."

I note, too, that the information that you have requested is likely contained within questionnaires completed by jurors, and that those records are confidential under §509-a of the Judiciary Law. That being so, the records would be exempt from disclosure pursuant to §87(2)(a) of the Freedom of Information Law.

I hope that the foregoing serves to clarify your understanding and that I have been of assistance.


Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director