Policies

10.04 Examination of Public Records

22.1 Public Records Defined

As used in this chapter, "public records" includes all records, documents, tape, or other information, stored or preserved in any medium, of or belonging to this state or any county, city, township, school corporation, political subdivision, nonprofit corporation other than a county or district fair or agricultural society, whose facilities or indebtedness are supported in whole or in part with property tax revenue and which is licensed to conduct pari-mutuel wagering pursuant to chapter 99D, or tax-supported district in this state, or any branch, department, board, bureau, commission, council, or committee of any of the foregoing.

"Public records" also includes all records relating to the investment of public funds including but not limited to investment policies, instructions, trading orders, or contracts, whether in the custody of the public body responsible for the public funds or a fiduciary or other third party.

22.2 Right to Examine Public Records---Exceptions

1. Every person shall have the right to examine and copy public records and to publish or otherwise disseminate public records or the information contained therein. The right to copy public records shall include the right to make photographs or photographic copies while the records are in the possession of the custodian of the records. All rights under this section are in addition to the right to obtain certified copies of records under section 622.46.

2. A government body shall not prevent the examination or copying of a public record by contracting with a non-government body to perform any of its duties or functions.

3. However, notwithstanding subsections 1 and 2, a government body is not required to permit access to or use of the following:

a. A geographic computer database by any person except upon terms and conditions acceptable to the governing body. The governing body shall establish reasonable rates and procedures for the retrieval of specified records, which are not confidential records, stored in the database upon the request of any person.

b. Data processing software developed by the government body, as provided in section 22.3A.

22.3 Supervision

Such examination and copying shall be done under the supervision of the lawful custodian of the records or the custodian's authorized deputy. The lawful custodian may adopt and enforce reasonable rules regarding such work and the protection of the records against damage or disorganization. The lawful custodian shall provide a suitable place for such work, but if it is impracticable to do such work in the office of the lawful custodian, the person desiring to examine or copy shall pay any necessary expenses of providing a place for such work. All expenses of such work shall be paid by the person desiring to examine or copy. The lawful custodian may charge a reasonable fee for the services of the lawful custodian or the custodian's authorized deputy in supervising the records during such work. If copy equipment is available at the office of the lawful custodian of any public records, the lawful custodian shall provide any person a reasonable number of copies of any public record in the custody of the office upon the payment of a fee. The fee for the copying service as determined by the lawful custodian shall not exceed the cost of providing the service.

22.4 Hours When Available

The rights of persons under this chapter may be exercised at any time during the customary office hours of the lawful custodian of the records. However, if the lawful custodian does not have customary office hours of at least thirty hours per week, such right may be exercised at any time from nine o'clock a.m. to noon and from one o'clock p.m. to four o'clock p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays, unless the person exercising such right and the lawful custodian agree on a different time.

22.5 Enforcement of Rights

The provisions of this chapter and all rights of persons under this chapter may be enforced by mandamus or injunction, whether or not any other remedy is also available. In the alternative, rights under this chapter also may be enforced by an action for judicial review according to the provisions of the Iowa administrative procedure Act, if the records involved are records of an "agency" as defined in that Act.

22.6 Penalty

It shall be unlawful for any person to deny or refuse any citizen of Iowa any right under this chapter, or to cause any such right to be denied or refused. Any person knowingly violating or attempting to violate any provision of this chapter where no other penalty is provided shall be guilty of a simple misdemeanor.

22.7 Confidential Records

The following public records shall be kept confidential, unless otherwise ordered by a court, by the lawful custodian of the records, or by another person duly authorized to release such information:

1. Personal information in records regarding a student, prospective student, or former student maintained, created, collected or assembled by or for a school corporation or educational institution maintaining such records.

2. Hospital records, medical records, and professional counselor records of the condition, diagnosis, care, or treatment of a patient or former patient or a counselee or former counselee, including outpatient. However, confidential communications between a crime victim and the victim's counselor are not subject to disclosure except as provided in section 236A.1. However, the Iowa department of public health shall adopt rules which provide for the sharing of information among agencies and providers concerning the maternal and child health program including but not limited to the statewide child immunization information system, while maintaining an individual's confidentiality.

3. Trade secrets which are recognized and protected as such by law.

4. Records which represent and constitute the work product of an attorney, which are related to litigation or claim made by or against a public body.

5. Peace officers' investigative reports, except where disclosure is authorized elsewhere in this Code. However, the date, time, specific location, and immediate facts and circumstances surrounding a crime or incident shall not be kept confidential under this section, except in those unusual circumstances where disclosure would plainly and seriously jeopardize an investigation or pose a clear and present danger to the safety of an individual.

6. Reports to governmental agencies which, if released, would give advantage to competitors and serve no public purpose.

7. Appraisals or appraisal information concerning the purchase of real or personal property for public purposes, prior to public announcement of a project.

8. Iowa department of economic development information on an industrial prospect with which the department is currently negotiating.

9. Criminal identification files of law enforcement agencies. However, records of current and prior arrests and criminal history data shall be public records.

10. Personal information in confidential personnel records of the military division of the department of public defense of the state.

11. Personal information in confidential personnel records of public bodies including but not limited to cities, boards of supervisors and school districts.

12. Financial statements submitted to the department of agriculture and land stewardship pursuant to chapter 203 or chapter 203C, by or on behalf of a licensed grain dealer or warehouse operator or by an applicant for a grain dealer license or warehouse license.

13. The records of a library which, by themselves or when examined with other public records, would reveal the identity of the library patron checking out or requesting an item or information from the library. The records shall be released to a criminal or juvenile justice agency only pursuant to an investigation of a particular person or organization suspected of committing a known crime. The records shall be released only upon a judicial determination that a rational connection exists between the requested release of information and a legitimate end and that the need for the information is cogent and compelling.

14. The material of a library, museum or archive which has been contributed by a private person to the extent of any limitation that is a condition of the contribution.

15. Information concerning the procedures to be used to control disturbances at adult correctional institutions. Such information shall also be exempt from public inspection under section 17A.3. As used in this subsection disturbance means a riot or a condition that can reasonably be expected to cause a riot.

16. Information in a report to the Iowa department of public health, to a local board of health, or to a local health department, which identifies a person infected with a reportable disease.

17. Records of identity of owners of public bonds or obligations maintained as provided in section 76.10 or by the issuer of the public bonds or obligations. However, the issuer of the public bonds or obligations and a state or federal agency shall have the right of access to the records.

18. Communications not required by law, rule, or procedure that are made to a government body or to any of its employees by identified persons outside of government, to the extent that the government body receiving those communications from such persons outside of government could reasonably believe that those persons would be discouraged from making them to that government body if they were available for general public examination. Notwithstanding this provision:

a. The communication is a public record to the extent that the person outside of government making that communication consents to its treatment as a public record.

b. Information contained in the communication is a public record to the extent that it can be disclosed without directly or indirectly indicating the identity of the person outside of government making it or enabling others to ascertain the identity of that person.

c. Information contained in the communication is a public record to the extent that it indicates the date, time, specific location, and immediate facts and circumstances surrounding the occurrence of a crime or other illegal act, except to the extent that its disclosure would plainly and seriously jeopardize a continuing investigation or pose a clear and present danger to the safety of any person. In any action challenging the failure of the lawful custodian to disclose any particular information of the kind enumerated in this paragraph, the burden of proof is on the lawful custodian to demonstrate that the disclosure of that information would jeopardize such an investigation or would pose such a clear and present danger.

19. Examinations, including but not limited to cognitive and psychological examinations for law enforcement officer candidates administered by or on behalf of a governmental body, to the extent that their disclosure could reasonably be believed by the custodian to interfere with the accomplishment of the objectives for which they are administered.

20. Memoranda, work products and case files of a mediator and all other confidential communications in the possession of an approved dispute resolution center, as provided in chapter 679. Information in these confidential communications is subject to disclosure only as provided in section 679.12, notwithstanding this chapter.

21. Information concerning the nature and location of any archaeological resource or site if, in the opinion of the state archaeologist, disclosure of the information will result in unreasonable risk of damage to or loss of the resource or site where the resource is located. This subsection shall not be construed to interfere with the responsibilities of the federal government or the state historical preservation officer pertaining to access, disclosure, and use of archaeological site records.

22. Information concerning the nature and location of any ecologically sensitive resource or site if, in the opinion of the director of the department of natural resources after consultation with the state ecologist, disclosure of the information will result in unreasonable risk of damage to or loss of the resource or site where the resource is located. This subsection shall not be construed to interfere with the responsibilities of the federal government or the director of the department of natural resources and the state ecologist pertaining to access, disclosure, and use of the ecologically sensitive site records.

23. Reports or recommendations of the Iowa insurance guaranty association filed or made pursuant to section 515B.10, subsection 1, paragraph "a", subparagraph (2).

24. Information or reports collected or submitted pursuant to section 508C.12, subsections 3 and 5, and section 508C.13, subsection 2, except to the extent that release is permitted under those sections.

25. Records of purchases of alcoholic liquor from the alcoholic beverages division of the department of commerce which would reveal purchases made by an individual class "E" liquor control licensee. However, the records may be revealed for law enforcement purposes or for the collection of payments due the division pursuant to section 123.24.

26. Financial information, which if released would give advantage to competitors and serve no public purpose, relating to commercial operations conducted or intended to be conducted by a person submitting records containing the information to the department of agriculture and land stewardship for the purpose of obtaining assistance in business planning.

27. Applications, investigation reports, and case records of persons applying for county general assistance pursuant to section 252.25.

28. Marketing and advertising budget and strategy of a nonprofit corporation which is subject to this chapter. However, this exemption does not apply to salaries or benefits of employees who are employed by the nonprofit corporation to handle the marketing and advertising responsibilities.

29. The information contained in records of the centralized employee registry created in chapter 252G, except to the extent that disclosure is authorized pursuant to chapter 252G.

30. Records and information obtained or held by independent special counsel during the course of an investigation conducted pursuant to section 68B.34. Information that is disclosed to a legislative ethics committee subsequent to a determination of probable cause by independent special counsel and made pursuant to section 68B.31 is not a confidential record unless otherwise provided by law.

31. Information contained in a declaration of paternity completed and filed with the state registrar of vital statistics pursuant to section 144.12A, except to the extent that the information may be provided to persons in accordance with section 144.12A.

32. Memoranda, work products, and case files of a mediator and all other confidential communications in the possession of a mediator, as provided in chapters 86 and 216. Information in these confidential communications is subject to disclosure only as provided in sections 86.44 and 216.15B, notwithstanding any other contrary provision of this chapter.

33. Social security numbers of the owners of unclaimed property reported to the treasurer of state pursuant to section 556.11, subsection 2, included on claim forms filed with the treasurer of state pursuant to section 556.19, included in outdated warrant reports received by the treasurer of state pursuant to section 25.2, or stored in record systems maintained by the treasurer of state for purposes of administering chapter 556, or social security numbers of payees included on state warrants included in records systems maintained by the department of revenue and finance for the purpose of documenting and tracking outdated warrants pursuant to section 25.2.

34. Data processing software, as defined in section 22.3A, which is developed by a government body.

35. A record required under the Iowa financial transaction reporting Act listed in section 529.2, subsection 9.

36. Records of the Iowa department of public health pertaining to participants in the gambling treatment program except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

37. Records of a law enforcement agency or the state department of transportation regarding the issuance of a motor vehicle license under section 321.189A.

22.8 Injunction to Restrain Examination.

1. The district court may grant an injunction restraining the examination, including copying, of a specific public record or a narrowly drawn class of public records. A hearing shall be held on a request for injunction upon reasonable notice as determined by the court to persons requesting access to the record which is the subject of the request for injunction. It shall be the duty of the lawful custodian and any other person seeking an injunction to ensure compliance with the notice requirement. Such an injunction may be issued only if the petition supported by affidavit shows and if the court finds both of the following:

a. That the examination would clearly not be in the public interest.

b. That the examination would substantially and irreparably injure any person or persons.

2. An injunction shall be subject to the rules of civil procedure except that the court in its discretion may waive bond.

3. In actions brought under this section the district court shall take into account the policy of this chapter that free and open examination of public records is generally in the public interest even though such examination may cause inconvenience or embarrassment to public officials or others. A court may issue an injunction restraining examination of a public record or a narrowly drawn class of such records, only if the person seeking the injunction demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that this section authorizes its issuance. An injunction restraining the examination of a narrowly drawn class of public records may be issued only if such an injunction would be justified under this section for every member within the class of records involved if each of those members were considered separately.

4. Good-faith, reasonable delay by a lawful custodian in permitting the examination and copying of a government record is not a violation of this chapter if the purpose of the delay is any of the following:

a. To seek an injunction under this section.

b. To determine whether the lawful custodian is entitled to seek such an injunction or should seek such an injunction.

c. To determine whether the government record in question is a public record, or confidential record.

d. To determine whether a confidential record should be available for inspection and copying to the person requesting the right to do so. A reasonable delay for this purpose shall not exceed twenty calendar days and ordinarily should not exceed ten business days.

e. Actions for injunctions under this section may be brought by the lawful custodian of a government record, or by another government body or person who would be aggrieved or adversely affected by the examination or copying of such a record.

f. The rights and remedies provided by this section are in addition to any rights and remedies provided by section 17A.19.

22.9 Denial of Federal Funds---Rules.

If it is determined that any provision of this chapter would cause the denial of funds, services or essential information from the United States government which would otherwise definitely be available to an agency of this state, such provision shall be suspended as to such agency, but only to the extent necessary to prevent denial of such funds, services, or essential information.

An agency within the meaning of section 17A.2, subsection 1 shall adopt as a rule, in each situation where this section is believed applicable, its determination identifying those particular provisions of this chapter that must be waived in the circumstances to prevent the denial of federal funds, services, or information.

See also:

Code of Iowa, 22.1-22.9, updated 7/98