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5 U. Balt. J. Media L. & Ethics 46 (2016)
Public Records Professionals' Perceptions of Nuisance Requests for Access

handle is hein.journals/ubjmleth5 and id is 46 raw text is: 


                          MICHELE BUSH KIMBALL*

       It is no secret that the interactions between information access
       professionals and records requesters can be adversarial. On the
       surface, these interactions may seem like simple disagreements
       over paperwork; in reality, they play a more important role in the
       democratic process. Transparency      allows  oversight into
       government function and a stronger, more effective citizenry.

       The interface between access professionals and records requesters
       is a practical illustration of democracy in action. Previous
       research has shown that nuisance requests prompt some of the
       most contentious interactions. This study uses mixed methods to
       explore how access professionals define nuisance requests and
       how they respond to requests they do not want to fill: requests they
       consider   to  be    ridiculous, burdensome,    inconvenient,
       unreasonable, unwarranted, vague, or frivolous. Legal analysis
       shows that no state allows denials on those bases. A handful of
       states allow extra time for responses, but these requests must still
       be filled.

       This study is framed in terms of the concept of street-level
       bureaucrats, and posits that government workers such as access
       professionals will adjust the way they carry out policies to suit
       their needs. The results explain     what frustrates access
       professionals the most and provides guidance for both sides of the
       request process on ways to improve their interactions so as to
       strengthen citizen participation in democracy.

       Keywords: public records, access, freedom of information

I. Introduction

       It is no secret that the interactions between access professionals and
records requesters can be adversarial.1 In one such case, The Chicago Tribune

PUBLIC RECORDS 114-36 (CQ Press 2010); David Cuillier, Honey v. Vinegar: Testing
Compliance-Gaining Theories in the Context of Freedom of Information Laws, 15 COMM.
L. & POL'Y 203,204 (2010); Melissa Davenport & Margaret B. Kwoka, Good, ButNot Great:
Improving Access to Public Records Under the D.C. Freedom of Information Act, 13 UDC-
DCSL L. REV. 359, 367 (2010); Michele Bush Kimball, Shining the Light from the Inside:
Access Professionals'Perceptions of Government Transparency, 17 COMM. L. & POL'Y 299-
328 (2012) [hereinafter Shining the Light]; Michele Bush Kimball, Law Enforcement
Records Custodians'Decision-Making Behaviors in Response to Florida's Public Records
Law, 8 COMM. L. & POL'Y 313 (2003) [hereinafter Florida's Public Records Law]; Daxton

UB Journal of Media Law & Ethics, Volume 5, No. 1/2 (Winter/Spring 2016)

Page 46

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