Iowans land records search through 2015
A federal appeals court on Monday threw out a lawsuit filed by a group of Arizona public land owners, saying the state’s records were improperly kept by the Department of Public Lands and that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue.
In a 2-1 ruling, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Arizona said that state records are not exempt from the federal Freedom of Information Act, and the records of the state agencies are public.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit said the state agency records were not public and that they had not established a legal claim under the First Amendment.
The state agency also argued that it was entitled to privacy rights and had not shown a likelihood of success in securing relief from the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed by the Arizona Land Policy Council and the Tucson-based nonprofit Public Lands Initiative, sought to compel the state to release the information that was stored in the state offices.
The court said the records are private and subject to release under the Freedom of Access to Information Act.
The decision, however, said it was unlikely that the state would be able to secure an exemption under the law.
“The district court correctly determined that the public records were private and therefore exempt from FOIA,” Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote for the 2-0 majority.
“The court has held that, under the FOIA, the public record is exempt from disclosure under FOIA.
State Attorney General Tom Horne, who filed the lawsuit against the agencies, said he was disappointed by the ruling.””
Jackson’s ruling applies to records kept at the Arizona Department of Land and Natural Resources offices, which are exempt from public disclosure under the federal FOIA.”
State Attorney General Tom Horne, who filed the lawsuit against the agencies, said he was disappointed by the ruling.
“This decision sends a strong message to the public and private land owners that Arizona does not have a place for their information on the public land records system,” Horne said in a statement.
“These officials are violating Arizona’s own FOIA laws.
We will now take action to enforce the law.”
A group of local land owners who are challenging the state are expected to appeal the decision to the U.N. General Assembly.