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Know the Law – Michigan Freedom of Information Act Basics

Posted at 9:00 AM, Mar 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-04 13:23:37-05

There are two types of Freedom of Information Acts (FOIA) – one on the federal level and one on the state level. In this week’s Know the Law segment, Tom Sinas, Grand Rapids personal injury attorney, explains Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act – how to access it and what type of information you may receive as a result.

What is FOIA?
The Freedom of Information Act, both at the federal and state level, was created to make government more transparent and hold these bodies accountable.

Accessing Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act
With very few exceptions, inmates being one group in particular, Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act is available to the public at large. You must submit a written request to the governing body who has the information you seek. It is best to figure out ahead of time the exact person who handles FOIA requests within the body you petition. Government bodies are required by law to respond to these requests.

Information You May Request
While Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act goes a long way in improving accountability, the government isn’t required to produce all information. The following are examples of information the government may not have to produce or can legally redact:
• Information that may impede an open criminal investigation;
• Protected communication between governing bodies and their attorney under the attorney-client privilege;
• Certain legislative “carve-outs;”
• Names and key identifiers to protect individual privacy.

Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act will likely be a topic of debate in the coming years and lawmakers in Lansing look to improve the system. It’s important information to understand. For more info, head over to