Governor’s approval of FOIL attorneys’ fee law bolsters transparency and is biggest advance for FOIL in many years
“Thank you Governor Cuomo, Assemblymember Paulin and Senator Gallivan, this new law is a real advance for state and local government transparency in New York. This shows us that Albany can move forward and can make government more accountable to the public,” said John Kaehny, Executive Director of watchdog group Reinvent Albany, which led a two year campaign for the bill.
Reinvent Albany thanks the fourteen newspaper editorial boards, twenty prominent New York and national transparency groups, and thirty-three media outlets that urged Governor Cuomo to sign the bill. The law makes it easier for the public to win attorneys’ fees when they have won a court order instructing agencies to release public records.
The legislation, A.2750-A (Paulin) /S.2392-A (Gallivan), passed the legislature overwhelmingly earlier this year. A Reinvent Albany analysis of FOIL court cases spanning over a decade found that judges do not award attorneys’ fees in nearly 1/4th of cases in which the public wins the release of public records. The reluctance of some judges to award attorneys’ fees even when ordering an agency to release records discourages the public from enforcing the Freedom of Information Law in court.