MCAO Public Records Team Works Hard to Fulfill Surging Number of Requests
Responding to a surge in demand for information, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office handled nearly 1,300 public records requests in 2016, almost double the number processed the previous year and a 62% increase over the past five years. Add in the hundreds of records preservation directives, claims notices and the government licensing checks we receive, and the MCAO Public Records team is busier than ever. Requests come from a wide variety of sources, including media outlets, defense attorneys, prosecutors from other jurisdictions, prison inmates, students, businesses and other members of the general public. The types of records requested range from case documents to prosecution statistics and historical data. Case documents alone can encompass thousands of pages. All of these requests are initially processed by MCAO’s Public Records Request team members and then reviewed by attorneys to ensure we are complying with all applicable laws, then the records are verified and provided by the MCAO’s Records Custodian.
“These numbers reflect not only the strong and varied interest in the work of the County Attorney’s Office, but our commitment to be as transparent and responsive as possible about the services our prosecutors provide to the citizens of Maricopa County,” remarked County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Whether it’s information on an individual case or data on criminal justice trends, my office will continue to thoroughly and promptly provide information in accordance with our ethical and statutory responsibilities,” he added. The volume of requests is high and there is no projected decrease in the volume of requests. The team works hard to process requests as efficiently as possible in the order in which they arrive without regard for the status of the requestor; while all along striving to protect victims’ information and maintain confidentiality in those instances where information is made confidential by statute.
Arizona’s Public Records laws, contained in Title 39 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, allow any person to inspect and be furnished copies of public records of any elected or appointed office or public body. Requesters may be required to pay for individual copies and scanning, however many records are typically furnished on CD-ROMs for a nominal fee or uploaded to a secure Maricopa County ftp site for fast, easy and free downloading. Certain non-public information, such as victim identification information, social security and bank account numbers, are redacted from records prior to their release.
Public records requests to the County Attorney’s Office are handled by three attorneys, office interns, clerical staff and the Records Custodian. Requests can be made by calling the MCAO’s Public Information Officer or by completing and submitting an online form at http://www.maricopacountyattorney.org/newsroom/public-records-request/. You may also contact the Custodian of Records at firstname.lastname@example.org.