Moving FOIA requests forward

The government’s business is your business. At Burnette Shutt & McDaniel, we make it our business to help you get the information you’re entitled to under the law.

The U.S. Freedom of Information Act gives anyone the right to access information the federal government compiles. There are nine exceptions to it. Things such as personnel files, personal information, and national security matters are not subject to disclosure. Other than that, though, everything is fair game. This includes pay for public employees as well as government contracts.

The South Carolina Freedom of Information Act does the same thing at the state and local level.  It also spells out that the public can attend meetings where officials make decisions. The open-records law applies to all agencies, from huge South Carolina state departments to small local boards.

The goal of both laws is to make government more transparent and government officials more accountable. Also known as “Sunshine Acts,” these laws are vital in shedding light on government workings. People have the right to know how their tax money is spent and how public officials make decisions. Freedom of information laws help protect that right.

Putting the Freedom of Information Act to work for you

FOIA laws also are important tools for community groups and activists. At Burnette Shutt & McDaniel, our lawyers’ work has included helping a citizen group concerned about long-term environmental issues obtain information a state agency had resisted revealing. Additionally, firm co-founder Nekki Shutt, whose undergraduate degree is in journalism, worked for seven years with South Carolina’s leading First Amendment scholar and advocate.

Sometimes filling out a template is all it takes to get the information. Others requests take more time. We’ll help you pursue your request whether it’s a simple filing, a complex case or somewhere in between. We also advise government agencies on compliance with the law.