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.

Firm Highlights

Press Coverage

Maine media groups challenge new law on foreign spending on referendums

Maine’s two largest media associations, represented by Preti Flaherty attorneys Sigmund D. Schutz, Benjamin S. Piper, Jonathan G. Mermin, and Alexandra A. Harriman, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit challenging a Maine law burdening...

News

Attorney Jeffrey Thaler Named to 2024 Lawdragon Green 500: Leaders in Energy Law

Preti Flaherty’s attorney Jeffrey Thaler has been recognized by  Lawdragon  as one of the top 500 Leaders in Energy Law. This is Jeff’s third time named to this prestigious list since the first publication...

Publication

Maine Workers’ Compensation Update - November 2023

The following is an overview of developments with respect to proposed legislation as well as new procedures on independent contractor determinations, medical fee schedule updates, and the use of updated Board forms, including medical...

News

Preti Flaherty Welcomes Trust and Estate Attorney Elise Salek to the Firm

Preti Flaherty is pleased to announce that Elise Salek has joined the firm’s Trusts & Estates Practice Group. Practicing out of the firm’s Concord, New Hampshire office, Elise brings nearly three decades of experience...

Event

Sigmund Schutz to moderate panel at 36th Annual Media and the Law Seminar: Under Attack! Existential Threats to Journalism and Free Speech

From unlawful searches and seizures of newsrooms and highly contentious litigation to physical harassment and calls for violence online, journalists and news organizations are under attack like never before. At the 36 th Annual...

Publication

131st Maine Legislature End of Session Update

The First Regular Session of the 131st Legislature was expected to end on June 15th or soon after. Instead, the First Regular Session ended on March 30th, and the Governor signed the “continuing services&rdquo...

News

David Van Slyke Named to 2024 Lawdragon Green 500: Leaders in Environmental Law

Preti Flaherty’s Managing Partner David Van Slyke has been recognized by Lawdragon as one of the top 500 environmental lawyers in the U.S. It’s the third time he has been named to this prestigious...

Publication

FRBP 9006 Doesn't Take Vacations

Bodie Colwell of Preti Flaherty’s Creditors' Rights & Bankruptcy Group, has authored the article "FRBP 9006 Doesn't Take Vacations," appearing in the October 2023 issue of the American Bankruptcy Institute's Young & New Members Committee newsletter...

Publication

November 7, 2023 Election Results

Maine’s November 2023 statewide elections were exclusively referendum questions, four were citizen initiatives, and four were proposed amendments to the Maine Constitution. Of these, Questions 5, 7 and 8 were placed on the ballot...

Event

Accessing Police Misconduct Records

Preti’s Sigmund Schutz will be one of the Maine panelists in New England First Amendment Coalition’s Accessing Police Misconduct Records series. This series continues NEFAC’s freedom of information lessons and builds on the information...