Sunshine Laws and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

“FOIA creates a mechanism for members of the public to obtain information from an obstinate or otherwise un-cooperative public body.” – Judge Ralph King Anderson, Jr.

At least that is one way of viewing the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, pursuant to which State and local government bodies are required to disclose information and cause their deliberative processes to be transparent to the public. For most of our firm’s clients, however, FOIA is a legal framework for conducting their governmental business of which they must be ever mindful.

The FOIA framework of rules for disclosure of information, and the exemptions from those rules, is a powerful tool for good government and pervasive aspect of the governmental law practice for the attorneys of Howell Linkous & Nettles. Failure of a governmental body to comply with FOIA can result in public criticism, media scrutiny, and, in extreme situations, paying the cost of a plaintiff’s legal fees. Our attorneys counsel clients in how to comply with the State’s Sunshine Laws while protecting sensitive information and, occasionally, obtaining information from an “obstinate or otherwise un-cooperative public body.”

We have written a summary reference guide to FOIA, the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, Annotated, which you are welcome to download. We encourage all of our governmental clients to become familiar with these laws, and to contact us if we can lend our experience or knowledge of this area of the law.