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Public Records Information

MOHAVE COUNTY AND THE ARIZONA PUBLIC RECORDS LAW

Both Arizona Statutes and case law define public record issues, and both may change from time to time.  The following is provided for guidance for those who desire to obtain public records from Mohave County.

1.  What is a Public Record?

The Arizona Public Records Law applies to all documents in the custody of public officers, who are obliged to “make and maintain records reasonably necessary to provide knowledge of all activities they undertake in furtherance of their duties.”

However, not all documents are covered.  The fact that writing is in the possession of a public officer or public agency does not make it a public record.  A public officer must generate or use a record in a capacity related to the duties of his office for that record to be a “public record.”  ARS § 30-121.01.B

2.  Public Records of any officer are open for review during regular office hours.

That includes information in various formats including computer tapes, email communications, video and audio tapes as well as other documents and forms.  Exceptions include confidentiality and privacy in the best interests of the state, statutes, administrative rules and orders.  The public’s right to review a public document is “weighty in itself” according to case law.  This means that there is a strong presumption in favor of the public unless there is a specific demonstration how the disclosure would harm the interests of privacy, confidentiality, or the best interests of the state.

3.  Who may request records?

Any person may request records.  The purpose of the request is relevant only in a difference between a private use and a commercial use.  Requestors seeking records for non-commercial purposes can be charged only reasonable fees for the actual reproduction of the records, but not for cost of research or locating the records.  Commercial requests may be charged for research of other costs. Refer to ARS § 39-121.03B for more on commercial purposes.

4.  When must records be provided?

With reasonable promptness and that is dependent upon the facts surrounding the request, such as location or means of storing.  Reasonable also means that public business not be disrupted.   However, if records are available for reproduction or review, they must be provided and/or reasonable access allowed.  There is no legal obligation to create new data, perform research projects, perform data analysis, create new report formats, provide legal advice, convert data to different mediums or formats, nor perform custom programming.

5.  How to Obtain Public Records.

By law, requests for records should be directed to the records custodian, who maintains custody of documents.   The law allows for written requests for commercial and non-commercial matters.  Written requests should be drafted as narrowly as possible, identifying the documents to be reproduced or reviewed as specifically as possible.

6.  Mohave County policy requires a written request for public records. 

Why?  Written requests avoid conflict of meaning or errors prone to oral communication.  Also a clear documentation and audit trail of custodian receipt and response can be maintained.  Written requests can expedite responses.  Additionally some requests, especially oral, may not make it to the correct custodian, or to the proper authority empowered to direct and ensure compliance with the request.  In summary, written notification is reasonable and used in the interest of carrying on government business as efficiently as possible without interference, and with a minimally intrusive impact on the right of access.  Record requests become themselves a “public record.”

7.  Anyone who desires a public record from Mohave County can do so easily by using the Mohave County Request for Information Form (Updated 12/20/04).

The form may be requested from the County Managers Office or may be downloaded from the Mohave County Website by clicking here or entering http://legacy.co.mohave.az.us/depts/cm/rpiform.pdf in your browser

The form is simple, and to the point.  The requestor should provide an original, signed form.  When the signed original is received, it will be assigned to the proper records custodian, and when the record is available, the requestor will be notified of its availability.  If reproduction is requested, payment for the reproduction will be required, $ .20 cents per page.  If personal review is requested, the requestor will be advised of availability.

If you are requesting a copy of a police report from the Mohave County Sheriff's Office please click here for the appropriate form

Should you have questions or difficulty downloading the form, please direct your inquiries to the Mohave County Manager’s Office.  The phone number is: 928.753.0729

 

 
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