We highlight on these pages many decisions that describe the right to obtain records under the RTK Law, but it remains helpful to be aware of enumerated exclusions in the RTK Law that prevent one from obtaining certain documents.
For example, in the recent Final Determination by the Office of Open Records in the matter of Chabot v. Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Dkt. No. AP 2018-1920 (OOR, Nov. 21, 2018), a request was made for records about a non-criminal investigation. In addition to providing a helpful explanation regarding the purpose of the RTK Law, procedures to appeal from the agency on whom a demand is made, and the burden of proof on the government to explain why the documents requested should not be provided, the decision explains several statutory exceptions to the requirement for a government agency to disclose documents. They include, for example:
- Investigative materials. Section 708(b)(17)(ii).
- Records that include the identity of a confidential source. Section 708(b)(17)(iii).
- Records that includes information made confidential by law. Section 708(b)(17)(iv).
- Records that, for example, would:
- disclose the start or progress or result of an agency investigation, except for the imposition of a fine or a penalty, or revocation or modification of a license or permit, or an executed settlement agreement–unless the court determines the settlement to be confidential;
- deprive a person of the right to an impartial adjudication;
- cause an unwarranted invasion of privacy, or
- endanger the life or physical safety of an individual. Section 708(b)(17)(vi).
Another recent decision of the OOR denied a request for police department scheduling policies and police officer timesheets based on an exception that does not require the production of government records when to do so would likely jeopardize public safety. See Gonzalez v. Elizabethtown Police Department, Dkt. No. 2018-1636 (OOR, Nov. 20, 2018).
But compare: Arthur v. Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, Dkt. No. 2018-1448 (OOR, Oct. 10, 2018) (Agency did not prove that the redacted information requested was proprietary information or a trade secret, and thus, the request for records was granted.)
Supplement: A list of the 30 or so statutory exceptions is provided on the OOR website.