Written rules and practical matters on state public records laws
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Public access laws are at the heart of transparent democracy, in place to ensure that government meetings and records are open to the public. Without adequate enforcement provisions, the courts are powerless to prevent public officials from conducting illegally closed meetings and withholding public information from scrutiny. Previous literature has focused on response time, appeal, expedited process, attorneys' fees, sanctions, and texts of the public access laws. However, scarce research had compared the written rules to the actual compliance of state access laws. The purpose of this study is to identify what trends or conclusions can be made about the actual compliance of public records laws at the state level. The article compares the written statutes and the actual enforcement of open records laws across the United States. The research analyzed texts of the statutes and court rulings on public records disputes in order to answers the following questions: 1. How strong are the public records laws across the United States? 2. How many open government disputes are there? How many of them have been processed? What are the court decisions in these disputes? 3. How much effort have the public officials put into open government laws compliance? Does it work?
Access is limited to the campuses of the University of Missouri.