Statutory Citation: M.R.S.A. Title 1, Chapter 13.

Definition of Public Record

The act defines public records as, “any written, printed or graphic matter or any mechanical or electronic data compilation from which information can be obtained, directly or after translation into a form susceptible of visual or aural comprehension, that is in the possession or custody of an agency or public official of this State or any of its political subdivisions, or is in the possession or custody of an association, the membership of which is composed exclusively of one or more of any of these entities, and has been received or prepared for use in connection with the transaction of public or governmental business or contains information relating to the transaction of public or governmental business.” 1

Exemptions to Public Records

Exempt in records: Certain law enforcement investigation documents; records of legislature; and university administrative committees. 2

Who Can Make The Request?


Response Timeframe

Rejections must occur within 5 days. 3

Information on Fees

Fees may cover copies and search time at a rate no greater than $15 an hour. 4

Enforcement Mechanisms

One may file an appeal in court. “Any person aggrieved by a refusal or denial to inspect or copy a record or the failure to allow the inspection or copying of a record under section 408-A may appeal the refusal, denial or failure within 30 calendar days of the receipt of the written notice of refusal, denial or failure to the Superior Court within the State for the county where the person resides or the agency has its principal office. The agency or official shall file a statement of position explaining the basis for denial within 14 calendar days of service of the appeal. If a court, after a review, with taking of testimony and other evidence as determined necessary, determines such refusal, denial or failure was not for just and proper cause, the court shall enter an order for disclosure. Appeals may be advanced on the docket and receive priority over other cases when the court determines that the interests of justice so require.” Maine Revised Statutes, Title 1, Chapter 13, Subchapter 1 § 409 5

Attorney Fees

Yes. “In an appeal under subsection 1 or 2, the court may award reasonable attorney’s fees and litigation expenses to the substantially prevailing plaintiff who appealed the refusal under subsection 1 or the illegal action under subsection 2 if the court determines that the refusal or illegal action was committed in bad faith. Attorney’s fees and litigation costs may not be awarded to or against a federally recognized Indian tribe.” Maine Revised Statutes, Title 1, Chapter 13, Subchapter 1 § 409(4) 6

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.

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