Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today announced that the Office of Attorney General and Town of Warren entered into a joint settlement agreement in which the Town agreed to pay a $1,500 fine for violating the state’s Access to Public Records Act (APRA).
The Office of Attorney General filed a civil lawsuit in Rhode Island Superior Court against the Town of Warren in August 2014 alleging the Town knowingly and willfully violated APRA when it failed to respond to an APRA request within the time frame dictated by the statute. On March 11, 2014, Joelle Sylvia, Esq., an attorney with the law firm Kelly & Mancini, made an APRA request to the Town of Warren seeking various documents maintained by the Town of Warren building official and Town Clerk. After initially extending the time to respond to the request, as allowed by APRA, the Town failed to provide a response and/or the requested documents. Under the APRA, a public body has 10 business days to respond to a request for documents. R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-7. If the public body denies the request, a written response detailing the specific reasons for the denial shall be sent within those 10 business days to the person or entity making the request. R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-7(a). If no response is sent within 10 business days, the lack of response will be deemed a denial. R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-7(b). If, for good cause, the public body cannot comply with a records request within 10 business days, then the public body may extend the time period an additional 20 business days, for a total of 30 business days. R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 38-2-7(a) and 38-2-3(e). After further investigation, the Office of Attorney General released a supplemental finding, Kelly & Mancini v. Town of Warren (PR 14-19B) wherein it determined that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that the Town of Warren knowingly and willfully violated the APRA.