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Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act is a powerful tool in government misconduct cases.  Under state and federal law one is entitled to obtain internal government documents including emails between government officials and investigative reports. The state law in Minnesota is called the Data Practices Act. The federal law is called the Freedom of Information Act. Almost all states have similar laws.

In Minnesota certain types of data are excluded from production, including employee personal information, documents relating to ongoing investigations, confidential commercial information obtained from a third-person, and information protected by the attorney-client privilege. However, the presumption is that records are public unless clearly prohibited from disclosure by a specific statute or rule. If the government withholds information requested, typically it must provide the specific law under which the privilege is claimed. 

"A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or tragedy or both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."  James Madison, fourth President of the United States.


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