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Public record chat: Oklahoma has strong open records laws but officials fail to enforce them

Reporters Bryan Dean and Paul Monies and Joey Senat, an Oklahoma State University professor and open government expert, chatted with readers Wednesday about open records cases.
by Paul Monies Modified: July 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm •  Published: July 25, 2012

On criminal affidavits:

As for criminal affidavits, court records are generally open unless sealed by a judge. For most criminal cases, you will first see a probable cause affidavit filed by police. This is followed by formal charges. Other court records are filed as the case progresses and are open unless a judge decides otherwise. - Bryan Dean

On giving a reason to view public records:

No. They aren't required. Oklahomans are vested with an inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government. - Joey Senat

On meeting agenda requirements:

Agendas need to inform people when and where a meeting will take place, obviously, but they are also supposed to identify all items of business to be discussed. When agencies go off topic and discuss something not on the agenda, they are breaking the law. The public is entitled to know what items of business they are discussing. This is still true of executive sessions. If they plan on firing someone, they have to explain who they are talking about in executive session. - Bryan Dean

OMA only requires that the agenda be a summary of what occurred in meeting. But nothing in the law prohibits public body from being more specific. - Joey Senat

On getting records from private or nonprofit agencies:

Nonprofits aren't covered if they are selling a service or goods to the government. Only if they receive a grant. - Joey Senat

Only if it's an operating grant. Not a payment for goods or services. - Joey Senat

Read the entire chat recap here.

by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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