Public Records Complaints Now Quicker and Cheaper Thanks to Senate Bill 321

It happens all too often. A request is made for a public record. Instead of complying with the request, the public agency delays or refuses to supply the record. Until recently, the person making such a request had no recourse except to hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit in court. In response to Senate Bill 321, which became law in 2016, the Court of Claims has established a quicker and cheaper procedure rather than filing a complaint in Common Pleas Court or the Court of Appeals. Giving the Court of Claims jurisdiction to handle public records claims provides an alternative remedy for public records denials. SB 321 provides that if a person is aggrieved by a public office or person’s failure to promptly prepare and make available a public record to that person as required by law, they may do one of the following to remedy the situation: file a complaint with the clerk of the Court of Claims or the clerk of the common pleas court; or, commence a mandamus action to obtain a judgment that orders the public office or person responsible for the public records to comply with the law. Essentially SB 321 creates an alternative to hiring an attorney and going to court by establishing a mediation process for resolution. Forms and instructions for filing a public records complaint with the Court of Claims are available at, and on our firm’s website under “Links.”