Smith v. Freedom of Information Commission
A public agency that attempts to comply, in good faith, with an oral request and promptly provides records to a citizen does not violate the Freedom of Information Act, even if the public agency miscomprehends the citizen's request and does not furnish all the records requested. On March 5, 2010, the plaintiff, Bradshaw Smith, requested a copy of the public defender's guidelines for representation. On March 8, Bradshaw Smith filed a complaint to the Freedom of Information Commission, complaining that the office of the chief public defender did not provide a certified copy of the public defender's guidelines. On March 16, the public defender sent Smith a copy of the guidelines that govern income eligibility. In October 2011, the public defender sent Smith a certified copy. Smith claimed that he requested a copy of all of the public defender's guidelines, not restricted to guidelines that govern income eligibility. The Freedom of Information Commission found that the public defender attempted to comply with Smith's request and did not violate the Freedom of Information Act. The commission dismissed the complaint, and Smith appealed. The court deferred to the Freedom of Information Commission's conclusion about the content of the oral request to the public defender. Substantial evidence supported the commission's decision. The Freedom of Information Commission's decision was not arbitrary, capricious or an abuse of discretion, and the court dismissed Smith's appeal. The court did not reach the public defender's claim that Smith's complaint is moot and that the court lacked jurisdiction.