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Delaware Public Defender Has No Standing Under State FOIA

The Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle, has held that the office of the Public Defender does not have standing to make requests under the Delaware Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The Public Defender submitted a FOIA request to the Delaware State Police, requesting the State Police training manuals. When that request was denied, the Public Defender sued.

The Superior Court held the FOIA refers to only “citizens of the State.” The Act, therefore, only works for citizens. The Court found that under Delaware law, the Office of the Public Defender is not a citizen and has no standing under the FOIA. While the State Police manuals are public records, the may only be obtained by a citizen.

Additionally, the Court held this “is a law firm’s request, made on behalf of litigants the law firm represents.” The FOIA, however, does not allow disclosure of records “pertaining to pending or potential litigation.” As such, the Public Defender had no right to obtain the manuals, and the State Police’s motion to dismiss was granted. See: Office of the Public Defender v. Delaware State Police, 2003 Del. Super. Lexis 111.

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Related legal case

Office of the Public Defender v. Delaware State Police