VII. The Response to the Request.
Mandatory. The custodian must respond to a public records request. ECO, 2002
WI App 302, ¶¶ 13-14, 259 Wis. 2d 276, ¶¶ 13-14, 655 N.W.2d 510, ¶¶ 13-14.
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Timing. Response must be provided “as soon as practicable and without delay.”
Wis. Stat. § 19.35(4)(a).
1. The public records law does not require response within any specific time,
such as “two weeks” or “48 hours.”
2. DOJ policy is that ten working days is generally a reasonable time for
response responding to a simple request for a limited number of easily
identifiable records. For requests that are broader in scope, or that require
location, review or redaction of many documents, a reasonable time for
responding may be longer. However, if a response cannot be provided
within ten working days, it is DOJ’s practice to send a communication
indicating that a response is being prepared.
3. What constitutes a reasonable time for a response to any specific request
depends on the nature of the request, the staff and other resources
available to the authority to process the request, the extent of the request,
and related considerations. Whether an authority is acting with reasonable
diligence in responding to a particular request will depend on the totalityof circumstances surrounding that request.
WIREdata II, 2008 WI 69,
¶ 56, ___ Wis. 2d ___, ¶ 56, 751 N.W.2d 736, ¶ 56.
4. Requests for public records should be given high priority.
5. Compliance at some unspecified future time is not authorized by the
public records law. The custodian has two choices: comply or deny.
WTMJ, Inc. v. Sullivan, 204 Wis. 2d 452, 457-58, 555 N.W.2d 140, 142
(Ct. App. 1996).
6. An authority should not be subjected to the burden and expense of a
premature public records lawsuit while it is attempting in good faith to
respond, or to determine how to respond, to a public records request.
WIREdata II, 2008 WI 69, ¶ 56, ___ Wis. 2d ___, ¶ 56, 751 N.W.2d 736,
7. An arbitrary and capricious delay or denial exposes the custodian to punitive
damages and a $1,000.00 forfeiture. Wis. Stat. § 19.37.
See Section XIII.,
Format. If the request is in writing, a denial or partial denial of access also must be
in writing. Wis. Stat. § 19.35(4)(b).
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