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Virginia FOIA

Discussion in 'Other Governmental Matters' started by Rescue341, Feb 19, 2020.

  1. Rescue341

    Rescue341 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hi all I hope everyone is doing good today!

    I placed a FOIA Request with a VA State Agency. I am working on a research project for a class and I am wanting to cite some information I have found in the FOIAs and submit them as supporting documents. I have had a great experience requesting records from everywhere except for this one agency. I have been a little obtuse. Because of the stigma that follows the type of people who usually file FOIAs. I have been worried about being associated with this. So I have been using a pseudo name. This hasn't been a issue with anywhere else but this one agency. The wanted my ID for the request. I apologized and declined and they responded that they can't process this with out my ID because they have to file a report on me and they have to verify that I am a state residence. I am no lawyer so I thought I would ask the wonderful experts hear not for legal advice but just there thoughts and understanding of FOIA in VA. My main questions are;

    1) According to VA § 2.2-3704 "The custodian may require the requester to provide his name and legal address." My very amateur and not a lawyer understanding of this is they are allowed to ask for my name and my legal address. It does say they can require my legal name. So my thinking is a reasonable nickname or pseudo name like Paul Dewitt should be ok. I'm I correct in thinking this or am I way off base? I intended to include this experience in my finials paper. So any Cases, Laws, or Definitions that I could cite would be awesome.

    2) Can a VA agency under the VA FOIA require my ID? I can't find anything in the act that says that they can do that so wouldn't that requirement be void because of this statement in this act? § 2.2-3700. Short title; policy. "Any ordinance adopted by a local governing body that conflicts with the provisions of this chapter shall be void." Again any help in correct anything that I am misunderstanding and any research resources you guys could share would be awesome.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this and any help or guidance you can offer.
     
  2. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    In other words, you're asking if it's ok to lie to them.

    Hrmmm....

    Is it ok to lie...
    Is it ok to lie...
    Is it ok to lie...


    hrmmm....
     
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  3. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to assume you quoted that correctly and base my answer on it.

    ...provide HIS name...

    Not A name.

    If the law allows them to require a name there is no reason to think they can't confirm the name.
     
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  4. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    § 2.2-3704. Public records to be open to inspection; procedure for requesting records and responding to request; charges; transfer of records for storage, etc

    § 2.2-3704. Public records to be open to inspection; procedure for requesting records and responding to request; charges; transfer of records for storage, etc.
    A. Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, all public records shall be open to citizens of the Commonwealth, representatives of newspapers and magazines with circulation in the Commonwealth, and representatives of radio and television stations broadcasting in or into the Commonwealth during the regular office hours of the custodian of such records. Access to such records shall be provided by the custodian in accordance with this chapter by inspection or by providing copies of the requested records, at the option of the requester. The custodian may require the requester to provide his name and legal address. The custodian of such records shall take all necessary precautions for their preservation and safekeeping. (emphasis added)


    Seems to me that the state agency is doing as they are directed, specifically, taking "all necessary precautions" for the preservation and safekeeping of the records. They are ensuring that you are actually authorized to receive those records under the law.
     
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  5. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    I forgot yo ask. What stigma is associated with filing an FOIA claim? I've filed many.

    And what agency?
     
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  6. Rescue341

    Rescue341 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    @Zigner
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    Would preservation and safekeeping be able to apply to the context of access to copies? Originally I read that as persevering the safety of the record itself. So for example I am a Technology Library Specialist. Part of what I do is back end research and archival work. If a patron wants access to something in out archives we will generally copy it and allow the patron to handle the copy. This is done to ensure the safety and longevity of our collection items. So I may have been biased in my reading of that section and due to my own experience. I may have thought it meant one thing when it in fact meant another. The more I read that in my head the more I could see Safekeeping meaning not only the safety of the physical record but also the data of the record getting into the hands of the "wrong" people.
     
  7. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    One of there jobs is to ensure that the records are accessed by authorized persons.
     
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  8. Rescue341

    Rescue341 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    @PayrollHRGuy
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    It was a dept. of health and at least to me from the outside looking in. It seems that FOIA has a association with the anti-government types that you see on the internet paying parking tickets will wheelbarrows full of pennies and going in to offices shouting and being rude because the aren't allowed to film in a court room. So when I was first met with my professor about this project that was what I spent most the meeting talking about. I'm just trying to gather data and the experience is in of itself part of that data so it is important to me that I do it right. I just also don't want the poor clerk on the other side of the desk to have the wrong idea as soon as the words freedom of information act request leave my mouth.
     
  9. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    I gonna guess FBI and their investigations of UFO encounters/probings. :p


    ETA: Shucks! I was wrong...No FBI. No UFO probings. :oops:
     
  10. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    When it says that the custodian "may require the requester to provide his name," do you really suppose that means that all that is required is any name, whether or not it is the requester's real name? If "requir[ing] the requester to provide his name" meant that the requester could provide any made up name (e.g., "Jack Mehoff"), what would be the point of requiring a name at all? Your "thinking [that] a reasonable nickname [whatever that might mean] or pseudo name . . . should be ok" is, at best, "way off base."

    Did you find anything saying that an agency cannot request ID to verify that the name provided pursuant to section 2.2-3704 is a real name and not a made-up name?
     
  11. Rescue341

    Rescue341 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    We got to figure out about those moon men haha, but all jokes aside it is that type of association that originally made me decide to use a pseudo name. I am only a sample size of one but crazy people is were my mind goes when I hear about someone putting in a FOIA Request.
     
  12. Rescue341

    Rescue341 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thats why I am here asking these questions. I recognize that as a layperson I can very easily be looking at this wrong. The things that made me think a name meant just a name was 1) That same line mentioned legal address. That made me think well that have purposefully said that a legal address can be required, If it had to be a legal name wouldn't they have stated legal name? 2) It seems counteractive to some of the reasonings behind FOIA to require someone to identify themselves before making a request. If you were requesting records that could show misconduct of an agency it seems that by identifying yourself. you could open yourself up to easy retaliation.

    and on the second thing. No I didn't find anything forbidding them form requiring it.
     
  13. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Don't assume an alleged victim or whistle blower is making the FOIA request, as it could be a reporter he/she/they is (are) collaborating with, even her/his/their attorney.

    You are free to have YOUR collaborater make such a request to protect your identity.
     
  14. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    Lots of people and entities use FOIA. I've had times when I was on the phone with an agency employee and they wanted to give me a document and it was on their computer in a PDF and they had my email but the agency rules were such that an FOIA request had to be made.
     
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  15. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    It's because that's all you hear about. I bet you've been watching a lot of YouTube videos that reinforce your belief as well. You need to understand that YouTube feeds you videos based on the history of videos you've watched. So, if you've watched videos of crazy people demanding information through a FOI demand, then you're gonna see more of them.
     
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  16. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    The mistake you're making is thinking they can't require ID because the statute doesn't say they can. It's the other way around. For them to be prohibited from requiring ID the statute would have to specifically prohibit. It's common for administrative laws to allow agencies to decide how best to conform to the statutes.

    Granted, some bureaucrats go overboard and make the process difficult but they are not violating the letter of any law by doing so.

    That this is the health department suggests that there are laws limiting the release of information. Perhaps HIPAA.
     
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  17. Rescue341

    Rescue341 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    That is a really valid point actually. I did do digging into how this whole processed worked ahead of time and I did end up on youtube watching videos from these crazy people. So yeah in hindsight I can definitely see how my view could be skewed
     
  18. Rescue341

    Rescue341 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    That makes sense. I can see how if they legislator intended to prevent them requiring ID it would have been mentioned somewhere. Side question, Could HIPAA limit the release of documents that didn't have to do with patients? The documents where in reference to ironically enough information retrieval and record retention policies
     
  19. Rescue341

    Rescue341 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Sorry all for the late replies had a busy few days dealing with work and the weather. Thank you all for all of your replies and help.
     
  20. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Probably not.

    Then if you want them bad enough, provide your ID. It's that simple. I don't think you are going to overcome bureaucratic ennui unless you want to spend a fortune on getting a court order which would, ironically, require your ID.
     
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