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MI FOIA Didn’t Require Disclosure of Documents for Jail Guards’ Disciplinary Proceedings; ERKA Might

The Deputy Sheriffs’ union (Union) requested reports on which the Kent County Sheriff (Sheriff) based disciplinary decisions against two jailers, pursuant to the state Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Mich. Comp. Laws § 15.231 et seq. (Mich. Stat. Ann. § 4.1801(1) et seq.) and the state Employee Right to Know Act (ERKA) Mich. Comp.
Laws § 423.501 et seq. (Mich. Stat. Ann. § 17.62(1) et seq.). When the Sheriff refused, the Union sued to compel disclosure in state court under the FOIA and ERKA. The trial court dismissed, and the Union appealed. The appellate court reversed, and the Sheriff appealed.

On review, the Supreme Court of Michigan held that the trial court properly upheld the Sheriff’s refusal to disclose the documents pursuant to the FOIA because the public’s interest in disclosure didn’t outweigh the Sheriff’s interest in keeping informants’ identity secret.
It therefore reversed the appellate court with respect to the FOIA claims. But because the documents could be obtained under the ERKA, the Court affirmed the appellate court’s reversal of the trial court’s dismissal of that claim and remanded the case to the trial court for further consideration of the ERKA claims. See: Kent County Deputy Sheriffs Ass’n v. Kent County Sheriff et al., 463 Mich. 353; 616 N.W.2d 677 (2001).

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Related legal case

Kent County Deputy Sheriffs Ass’n v. Kent County Sheriff et al.