…still not known. About two months ago, a few days after the initial raids conducted by Pennsylvania law enforcement officers on a small number of beer bars due to concerns over unregistered brands, I quickly put together a public records request designed to answer many of the questions raised by people both in and outside of the beer business regarding the whole affair. I frequently write FOIA and other information requests in my legal practice, so this didn’t require much additional effort. In its entirety, the request read as follows:
March 16, 2010
Open Records Law Officer
Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement
3655 Vartan Way
Harrisburg, PA 17110
Dear Sir or Madam,
This is a request pursuant to the Pennsylvania Open Records Law. I am writing to request a copy of the complaint(s) or report(s) that lead to the investigation of the sale of unregistered beer brands that the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Code Enforcement undertook on March 4, 2010, at the Memphis Taproom, 2331 East Cumberland Street, Philadelphia, PA 19125, the Resurrection Ale House, 2425 Grays Ferry Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19146, and Local 44, 4333 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. I would like to receive copies of the above requested records, do not request to inspect the records, and do not request certified copies of the records.
I have also enclosed a copy of the Open Records Law request Form. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.
As the initial one week deadline for the government’s response drew near, I received a standard response saying that the department required an additional period of time in which to respond. The second deadline occurred while I was away on a recent trip to Cambodia, Vietnam, and Germany, so I didn’t have the opportunity to post the government’s response until now. So here for your review, as an example of how government works, is the response I received from the Pennsylvania State Police regarding my inquiry.
As a government lawyer who has penned disclosure denial letters, I applaud. That is exactly correct and no doubt your observation “here for your review, as an example of how government works” meant to draw the readers attention to the detailed and succinct way in which the police responded. Prosecutorial privilege would logically protect an informant’s identity where that informant is not relied upon for evidence before trial or a hearing before a tribunal but it seems to be even clearly set out right the in RTKL.
Hey Alan. That was indeed my intention. I’m not sufficiently versed in PA open records law so I can’t comment on whether the denial is proper or not. I imagine it was but also believe that at some point after the administrative process has concluded, such a ground would not longer suffice to deny this request.
I’m quite verklempt. I don’t know if the privilege would fade as a well-placed informant is a very useful thing.