1. Identify: Figure out exactly what information you want and who would maintain that record. A narrower request is more likely to be honored quickly.
2. Request: Go to the office, send an e-mail or call and ask the clerk or official in the office if you can examine and photocopy the information. Inspection is free, but the public agency can require reimbursement of the cost for copying.
3. In writing: If informal requests do not work, write a letter (NOT an e-mail) citing the public records law. This ensures there's no misunderstanding about exactly what you asked for and when, and it serves as evidence if you must appeal the records request. The agency must reply to your request in writing within three business days.
4. Appeal: If you're denied, you may file an appeal with the attorney general for review of the agency’s decision. Your appeal must include a copy of your written request, a copy of the agency’s written denial, if available, and, if you wish, a letter of appeal describing the circumstances of the appeal.
5. Last resort: If you’re still denied access, you can consult a lawyer to make sure the record is public and then file a lawsuit demanding access.