Matter of Riley-James v. Vance Jr.


New York Law Journal


Justice Alexander Hunter Jr.

Inmate Riley-James, convicted for murder, and robbery, among other things, sought to reverse the District Attorney's (DA) decision denying petitioner's appeal of a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request. Riley-James filed a FOIL request to the DA's office seeking information about robbery victim Harris. The Records Access Officer denied access to all documents sought, noting a personal privacy exemption, the fact the DA did not possess certain documents requested in its files, and that the arrest photo sought was compiled for law enforcement use only. The court noted all records of an agency were presumptively available for public inspection and copying, unless they fell within one of Public Officers Law §87(2) exemptions. It found the requests for complaint follow-up reports and DD5s—the same document—were properly denied as the DA was not in possession of such documents, and a verified answer attested to such fact. Also, the request for the arrest photo was properly denied to protect Harris' privacy, and as it was a document compiled solely for law enforcement purposes. Yet, the court required an in camera inspection of arrest reports to determine if redactions were more appropriate than a blanket denial.

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