Definition of Public Record

Public records include any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, or to which a public agency is entitled to receive a copy by law or contract. This data or information can be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method. 1

Exemptions to Public Records

Exempt: Preliminary drafts or notes whose disclosure does not outweigh the public benefit of withholding them, Personnel or medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy”, Records of law enforcement agencies which are still currently in pre-trial or trial phase or which would place victims or culprits in danger, Strategy or negotiation concerning pending litigation, Trade Secrets, Financial information, freely given and not required by statute, Licensing tests and statements of personal worth, Collective bargaining records and reports, Personal information including names and addresses of students enrolled in any school, Adoption records, Petitions, Records of complaints, Any information that would jeopardize security at correctional facilities, infrastructure, telecommunications or the security of any individuals, Home addresses of anyone within the Address Confidentiality Program 2

Who Can Make The Request?


Response Timeframe

There are no restrictions on the use of the records and the allotted response time for Connecticut open requests is four days. 3

Information on Fees

State fees for copying are set at 25 cents per page, and other public agencies can charge 50 cents per page. No other fees are authorized except charges at actual cost to the agency for transcription and electronic records. 4

Enforcement Mechanisms

If you win your appeal and the FOIC has “reasonable grounds” to do so, they may impose a fine on an offending agency of not more than $1,000. If the agency knowingly and purposefully disobeyed the law and withheld records, they may be guilty of a class A misdemeanor which carries a sentence of a year in jail and $2,000 in fines. If an agency does not heed the judgement of the FOIC and turn over records, then it is guilty of a class B misdemeanor which has a possible sentence of six months in jail and up to $1,000 in penalties.(see) FOIA is enforced by the Freedom of Information Commission (FOIC), which consists of five members appointed by the governor with the approval of the legislature and four members appointed by other officials. See Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-205. The FOIC is charged with promptly reviewing any alleged violation of FOIA and issuing orders regarding such allegations. The commission has the power to investigate allegations, including the power to hold hearings, administer oaths, examine witnesses, receive oral and documentary evidence, subpoena witnesses, and require the production of books and papers it deems relevant to the investigation. Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-205. 5

Attorney Fees

You can win attorney’s fees

Do You Want to Make a Public Records Request?

The public records process begins with a public records request. Our guide outlines best practices for drafting well-defined requests for public information.

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Questions? Contact the Goldwater Institute.

If you have any questions regarding this guide or your rights to public information, please contact the Goldwater Institute at to determine if the Institute can help you access information necessary to hold your government accountable.

Goldwater Institute