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Using The Freedom of Information Act To Get Records 
 
Sent by certified mail, return receipt
 
June 16, 1998
Sergeant John Coates
Harvard Police Department
Harvard Town Hall, Ayer Road
Harvard, MA 01451
 
Dear Sergeant John Coates:
 
This is a request for a copy of any and all Harvard Police Department records on a on- site home investigation of a party on or about January 16, 1998 at the residence of Linda S. Wright at 10 Peninsula Road, Harvard, MA.
 
This is also a request for any and all records and documents on any additional follow-up investigation resulting from this incident.
 
This information is requested pursuant to the Massachusetts General Law Chapter 66 10 and c.47part26.
 
If it is contended that portions of these records should be confidential, and I do not believe this to be the case, I request a copy of the public excerpts.
 
I have enclosed $1 to cover the standard by mail copy cost which with the $4.00 change Chief Chase and the Town of Harvard owes me from a request last Summer provides the total required amount of $5. Please note the law a custodian of a public record shall, within ten days following receipt of a request for inspection or copy of a public record, comply with such request.
 
Please send the requested documents as soon as possible. Thank you.
 
Sincerely,
 
J. William Wright, III
 
 
NOT INCLUDED in letter:
 
4 7, Cl. Twenty-sixth JURISDICTION OF COMMONWEALTH
 
Twenty-sixth, "Public records" shall mean all books, papers, maps, photo-graphs. recorded tapes. financial statements, statistical tabulations, or other documentary materials or data, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by any officer or employee of any agency, executive office, department, board, commission, bureau, division or authority of the common-wealth, or of any political subdivision thereof, or of any authority established by the general court to serve a public purpose. unless such materials or data fall within the following exemptions in that they are:
 
(a) specifically or by necessary implication exempted from disclosure by statute;
 
(h) related solely to internal personnel rules and practices of the government unit, provided however, that such records shall be withheld only to the extent that proper performance of necessary; governmental functions requires such withholding:
 
(c) personnel and medical files or information: also any other materials or data relating to a specifically named individual, the disclosure of which may constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy:
 
(d) interagency or intra-agencv memoranda or letters relating to policy positions being developed by the agency; but this subclause shall not apply to reasonably completed factual studies or reports on which the development of such policy positions has been or may be based:
 
(e) notebooks and other materials prepared by an employee of the commonwealth which are personal to him and not maintained as part of the files of the governmental unit:
 
135
 
4 7, Cl. Twenty-sixth JURISDICTION OF COMMONWEALTH
 
(f) investigatory materials necessarily compiled out of the public view by law enforcement or other investigatorv officials the disclosure of which materials would probably so prejudice the possibility of effective law enforcement that such disclosure would not be in the public interest;
 
(g) trade secrets or commercial or financial information voluntarily provided to an agency for use in developing governmental policy and upon a promise of confidentialitv; but this subclause shall not apply to information submitted as required by law or as a condition of receiving a governmental contract or other benefit;
 
(h) proposals and bids to enter into any contract or agreement until the time for the opening of bids in the case of proposals or bids to be opened publicly, and until the time for the receipt of bids or proposals has expired in all other cases; and inter-agency or intra-agency communications made in connection with an evaluation process for reviewing bids or proposals, prior to a decision to enter into negotiations with or to award a contract to, a particular person.
 
(i) appraisals of real property acquired or to be acquired until (l) a final agreement is entered into; or (2) any litigation relative to such appraisal has been terminated; or (3) the time within which to commence such litigation has expired.
 
(j) the names and addresses of any persons contained in, or referred to in, any applications for any licenses to carry or possess firearms issued pursuant to chapter one hundred and forts' or any firearms identification cards issued pursuant to said chapter one hundred and forty and the names and addresses on sales or transfers of any firearms, rifles, shotguns, or machine guns or ammunition therefor, as defined in said chapter one hundred and forty and the names and addresses on said licenses or cards.
 
(k) DeletedbySt.l98~,c. lS0. 1.
 
(l) test questions and answers, scoring keys and sheets, and other examina-tion data used to administer a licensing examination; provided, however, that such materials are used to administer another examination.
 
(m) contracts for hospital or related health care services between (i) any hospital. clinic or other health care facility operated by a unit of state, county or municipal government and (ii) a health maintenance organization arrangement approved under chapter one hundred and seventy-six I, a nonprofit hospital service corporation or medical service corporation organized pursuant to chapter one hundred and seventy-six A and chapter one hundred and seventy' -six B. respectively. a health insurance corporation licensed under chapter ore hundred and seventy-five or any legal entitv that is self insured and provides health care benefits to its employees.
 
Any person denied access to public records may pursue the remedy provided for in section ten o( chapter sixty-six.
 
 
MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL LAW CHAPTER 66 SECTION 10
 
(a) Every person having custody of any public record, as defined in clause Twenty-sixth of section seven of chapter four shall, at reasonable times and without unreasonable delay, permit it, or any segregable portion of a record which is an independent public record, to be inspected and examined by any person, under his supervision. and shall furnish one copy thereof upon payment of a reasonable fee. Every person for whom a search of public records is made shall, at the direction of the person having custody of such records, pay the actual expense of such search. The following fees shall apply to any public record in the custody of the state police, the Massachusetts bay transportation authority police or any municipal police departments or fire department: for preparing and mailing a motor vehicle accident report, five dollars for not more than six pages and fifty cents for each additional page, for preparing and mailing a fire insurance report five dollars for not more than six pages pIus fifty cents for each additional page; for preparing and mailing crime. incident or miscellaneous reports, one dollar per page, for furnishing any j).public record in hand, to a person requesting such records, fifty cents per page. A page shall be defined as one side of an eight and one-half inch by eleven inch sheet of paper.
 
 
(b) A custodian of a public record shall, within ten days following receipt of a request for inspection or copy of a public record, comply with such request. Such request may be delivered in hand to the office or the custodian or mailed via first class mail If the custodian refuses or fails to comply with such a request, the person making the request may petition the supervisor of records for a determination whether the record requested is public. Upon the determination by the supervisor of records that the record is public, he shall order the custodian of the public record to comply with the person's request. If the custodian refuses or tails to comply with any such order. the supervisor of records may notify the attorney general or the appropriate district attorney thereof who may take whatever measures he deems necessary to insure compliance with the provisions of this section. The administrative remedy provided by this section shall in no way limit the availability of the administrative remedies provided by the commissioner of administration and finance with respect to any officer or employee of any agency, executive office. department or board; nor shall the administrative remedy provided by this section in any way limit the availability of judicial remedies otherwise available to any person requesting a public record. If a custodian of a public record refuses or fails to comply with the request of any person for inspection or copy of a public record or with an administrative order under this section. the supreme judicial or superior court shall have jurisdiction to order compliance.
 
(c) In any court proceeding pursuant to paragraph (b) there shall be a presumption that the record sought is public and the burden shall be upon the custodian to prove with specificty the exemption which applies.
 
(d) The clerk of every city or town shall post, in a conspicuous place in the city or town hall in the vicinity of the clerk's office, a brief printed statement that any citizen may, at his discretion, obtain copies of certain public records from local officials for a tee as provided for in this chapter.
 
The executive director of the criminal history systems board, the criminal history systems board and its agents. servants, and attorneys including the keeper of the records of the firearms records bureau of said department, or any licensing authority, as defined by chapter one hundred and forty shall not disclose any records divulging or tending to divulge the names and addresses of persons who own or possess firearms, rifles shotguns, machine guns and ammunition therefor, as defined in said chapter one hundred and forty and names and addresses of persons licensed to carry and/or possess the same to any person, firm, corporation, entity or agency except criminal justice agencies as defined in chapter six and except to the extent such information relates solely to the person making the request and is necessary to the official interests of the entity making the request.
 
The home address and home telephone number of law enforcement, judicial, prosecutorial, department of youth services, correctional and any other public safety and criminal justice system personnel shall not be public records in the custody of the employers of such personnel and shall not be disclosed; provided, however, that such information may be disclosed to an employee organization under chapter one hundred and fifty E or to a criminal justice agency as defined in section one hundred and sixty-seven of chapter six The name and home address and telephone number of a family member of any such personnel shall not be public records in the custody of the employers of the foregoing persons and shall not be disclosed. The home address and telephone number, or place of employment or education of victims of adjudicated crimes and of persons providing or training in family planning services and the name and home address and telephone number, or place of employment or education of a family member of any of the foregoing shall not be public records in the custody of a government agency which maintains records identifying such persons as falling within such categories and shall not be disclosed.
 
What matters are exempt from disclosure under Freedom of Information Act (5 USCS Sec. 552(b)(1)) as 'specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national1 defense or foreign policy." 29 ALR Fed 606
 
Freedom of Information Act exemption (5 USCS Sec. 552(b)(5)) for inter-agency and intra-agency memorandums or letters as applicable to communications to or from attorneys for the government. 54 ALR Fed 280.
 
What constitutes 'confidential source" within Freedom of information Act exemption permitting nondisclosure of identity of confidential source and in specified instances. of confidential information furnished only by confidential source (5 USCS Sec. 522(b)(7)(D)). 59 ALR Fed 550.
 
Who has standing to seek access to agency information under Freedom of Information Act. 82 ALR Fed 248
 
 
 
[1997 Pocket BOOK UPDATE]
 
 
 
7. Definitions of statutory terms; statutory construction
 
In construing statutes the following words shall have the meanings herein given, unless a contrary intention clearly appears:
 
[See main volume for clauses First to Twenty-fifth]
 
Twenty-sixth, "Public records" shall mean all books, papers, maps, photographs, recorded tapes, financial statements, statistical tabulations, or other documentary materials or data, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by any officer or employee of any agency, executive office, department, board, commission, bureau, division or authority of the commonwealth, or of any political subdivision thereof, or of any authority established by the general court to serve a public purpose, unless such materials or data fall within the following exemptions in that they are:
 
[See main volume for (a) to (g)]
 
(h) proposals and bids to enter into any contract or agreement until the time for the opening of bids in the case of proposals or bids to be opened publicly, and until the time for the receipt of bids or proposals has expired in all other cases; and inter-agency or intra-agency communications made in connection with an evaluation process for reviewing bids or proposals, prior to a decision to enter into negotiations with or to award a contract to, a particular person;
 
(i) appraisals of real property acquired or to be acquired until (1) a final agreement is entered into; or (2) any litigation relative to such appraisal has been terminated; or (3) the time within which to commence such litigation has expired;
 
(j) the names and addresses of any persons contained in, or referred to in, any applications for any licenses to carry or possess firearms issued pursuant to chapter one hundred and forty or any firearms identification cards issued pursuant to said chapter one hundred and forty and the names and addresses on sales or transfers of any firearms, rifles, shotguns, or machine guns or ammunition therefor, as defined in said chapter one hundred and forty and the names and addresses on said licenses or cards;
 
(k) Deleted by St.1988, c. 180, 1.
 
(1) questions and answers, scoring keys and sheets and other materials used to develop, administer or score a test, examination or assessment instrument; provided, however, that such materials are intended to be used for another test, examination or assessment instru-ment;
 
[See main volume for (m)]
 
Any person denied access to public records may pursue the remedy provided for in section ten of chapter sixty-six.
 
 
Amended by St.1996, c. 204, 3; St.1996, c. 450, 1 to 4.