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Abstract

The New Mexico’s Inspection of Public Records Act is a sunshine law created to allow the public access to its government’s operations. From its inception, the IPRA has been interpreted broadly towards disclosure of documents to keep government agents accountable for their conduct. While there are enumerated exceptions to the IPRA, they are narrowly construed and specific. However, of late government agencies have been pressing to enlarge the construction of these exceptions. A series of cases have been brought under the IPRA to challenge the use of the Law Enforcement Exception by New Mexico’s Department of Public Safety as a means to extend a blanket denial to requesters of investigation records. This article argues that such a broad reading of the Law Enforcement Exception is not supported by a plain reading of the statute, nor by the case law that has interpreted the IPRA. Further, these repeated challenges underscore a need to address the lack of clarity regarding a process to address governmental denials of IPRA requests as to not only the Law Enforcement Exception but all exceptions. This article suggests that a new denial process that more thoroughly informs the requestor of the basis for the agency’s denial would better inform the public, and New Mexico’s courts when a matter is litigated, of the agency’s conduct and reasoning.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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