Information is the currency of our time, and access to the information you need is more important than ever. Whether you are attempting to obtain public records through local, state, or federal agencies, the process to get that information can be cumbersome and frustrating. It’s not always clear what information is available through right-to-know laws such as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or Maine’s Freedom of Access Act (FOAA). With numerous exemptions, exclusions, and miseducation, even public officials and government staff can be confused as to what they can and cannot disclose under FOIA/FOAA.

The Power of Transparency

Led by Sig Schutz, recognized by the Sun Journal as “one of Maine’s foremost authorities on the state’s Freedom of Access Act,” Preti Flaherty's Media Law attorneys have decades of experience and close familiarity on both sides of FOIA and FOAA transactions, and the proven knowledge and experience to advise on freedom of information compliance and disputes. Our team regularly assists clients with sophisticated counsel on all aspects of information exchange, including:

  • Public records requests, including responses to and denials of records requests
  • Public records/FOIA appeals, litigation, and dispute resolution
  • Compliance violations
  • Drafting and reviewing FOIA-related documents
  • Training public officials
  • Determination of fees
  • HIPAA—healthcare confidentiality
  • Data security and privacy

Our articles on access to government records have been published in the Maine Bar Journal and the Open Government Guide and our team co-authored the Open Courts Compendium: Maine and the Reporters’ Privilege Compendium, published by the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press. We are frequently invited to present on the subject of access to public information, including “Access to Public Records in the Electronic Age" and "What You Need to Know About Public Records and Open Meetings in Maine."

Advocates for Good Government

We have served as counsel in many precedent-setting public access cases in Maine, including access to transcripts of 911 calls, the right to attend jury selection in criminal cases in Maine State Court, access to “draft” settlement agreements with the State, access to dash cam police cruiser video, and access to records of closed law enforcement investigations. We also advise on access to federal records and information and litigate federal freedom of information claims, including appearing in more than a dozen freedom of information appeals decided by the Maine Supreme Court:

  • Bond v. Town of Windham, 2019 Mem-19-11
  • Pinkham v. Department of Transp., 2016 ME 74, 139 A. 3d 904
  • Preti Flaherty Beliveau & Pachios, LLP v. State Tax Assessor, 2014 ME 6, 86 A.3d 30
  • MaineToday Media, Inc. v. State of Maine, 2013 ME 100, 41 Media L. Rep. 2673
  • State of Maine v. Strong (In re. MaineToday Media, Inc.), 2013 ME 12, 59 A.3d 499, 41 Media L.Rep. 1237
  • MacImage of Me., LLC v. Androscoggin Cty., 2012 ME 44, 40 A.3d 975
  • Anastos v. Town of Brunswick, 2011 ME 41, 15 A.3d 1279
  • Moore v. Abbott, 2008 ME 100, 952 A.2d 980
  • Blethen Maine Newspapers v. Portland School Cmte, 2008 ME 69, 947 A.2d 479, 36 Media.L.Rep. 1652
  • Citizens Communications Co. v. Attorney General, 2007 ME 114, 931 A.2d 503
  • Blethen Maine Newspapers, Inc. v. State of Maine, 2005 ME 56, 871 A.2d 523, 33 Media L.Rep 1616
  • Doe v. Department of Mental Health, 1997 ME 105, 699 A. 2d 422
  • Guy Gannett Pub v. University of Maine, 555 A. 2d 470 (1989)
  • Guy Gannett Pub v. Dept. of Public Safety, 555 A. 2d 474 (1989)
  • Moffett v. City of Portland, 400 A. 2d 340 (1979)

Our team provides effective and timely counsel. Our reputation as the premiere media law firm in Maine extends far beyond the borders of the state, bolstering our national presence, and making Preti Flaherty where people turn to no matter how they are engaging with public information.