Module 4: Appeals

An important provision of GRAMA is the right of a requester denied access to records to be able to appeal the decision. Part Four outlines the appeals process.

Section 4.1 Appeal to head of governmental entity

The first appeal must go to the chief administrative officer, or designee, of a governmental entity. A person, including a person not party to the proceeding, must appeal to the chief administrative officer within 30 [calendar] days.

The requester also has the right to appeal a governmental entity’s claim of extraordinary circumstances, if the person believes such circumstances do not exist or the time frame specified is unreasonable (Subsections 63G-2-401(1), 63G-2-204(8)) and an unreasonable denial of a request for a fee waiver. (Subsection 63G-2-203(6))

The chief administrative officer has no more than five business days to respond, or 12 days if an issue of confidentiality exits. However, the time period may be extended by agreement of all parties. (Subsection 63G-2-401(5))

To file notice, the petitioner must include his or her name, address, and daytime telephone number and the relief sought. The petitioner may include a short statement of facts and reasons in support of the appeal. (Subsection (2, 3))

63G-2-401. Appeal to head of governmental entity.
. . . . (2) The notice of appeal shall contain the following information: (3) The petitioner may file a short statement of facts, reasons, and legal authority in support of the appeal.

The chief administrative officer may, weighing varying interests and public policy, order disclosure of the records, if the interests favoring access are equal or greater than those of restriction. (Subsection (6)) However, certain records of enforcement or litigation may only be released upon a higher standard of weighing the interests of access or restriction, found in Section 63G-2-406.

The chief administrative officer’s determinations must be sent to all interested parties. If the chief administrative officer affirms the denial, in whole or in part, he or she must include: (Subsection (7))

If the chief administrative officer fails to make a determination or provide notice, it shall be considered a denial and the petitioner has 45 days to appeal to the next level. (Subsection (5)(b), 63G-2-403(1)(b))

To review, the appropriate response times for appeals is detailed below:

Requester to appeal denial to chief administrative officer

Within 30 days after receiving notice of denial or if the governmental entity fails to respond

63G-2-401(1), 63G-2-204(8)

Chief administrative officer to respond to appeal

No more than 5 business days or 12 business days if business confidentiality is involved; by agreement parties may extend the time period

63G-2-401(5)

Requester to appeal the denial of the chief administrative officer to the State records committee.

Within 30 days after receiving response or 45 days after appeal if chief administrative officer did not respond (Requestor may choose to appeal in district court instead.)

63G-2-403(1)