§ 2–537. Administrative appeals.
*NOTE: This section includes amendments by temporary legislation that will expire on October 27, 2021. To view the text of this section after the expiration of all emergency and temporary legislation affecting this section, click this link: Permanent Version.*
(a) Except as provided in subsections (a-1) and (a-2) of this section, any person denied the right to inspect a public record of a public body may petition the Mayor to review the public record to determine whether it may be withheld from public inspection. Such determination shall be made in writing with a statement of reasons therefor in writing within 10 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, days of the initial COVID-19 closure, and legal holidays) of the submission of the petition.
(1) If the Mayor denies the petition or does not make a determination within the time limits provided in this subsection, or if a person is deemed to have exhausted his or her administrative remedies pursuant to subsection (e) of § 2-532, the person seeking disclosure may institute proceedings for injunctive or declaratory relief in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia.
(2) If the Mayor decides that the public record may not be withheld, he shall order the public body to disclose the record immediately. If the public body continues to withhold the record, the person seeking disclosure may bring suit in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia to enjoin the public body from withholding the record and to compel the production of the requested record.
(a-1) Any person denied the right to inspect a public record in the possession of the Council may institute proceedings in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia for injunctive or declaratory relief, or for an order to enjoin the public body from withholding the record and to compel the production of the requested record.
(a-2) Any person denied the right to inspect a public record in the possession of the Attorney General may institute proceedings in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for injunctive or declaratory relief, or for an order to enjoin the public body from withholding the record and to compel the production of the requested record.
(b) In any suit filed under subsection (a), (a-1), or (a-2) of this section, the Superior Court for the District of Columbia may enjoin the public body from withholding records and order the production of any records improperly withheld from the person seeking disclosure. The burden is on the public agency to sustain its action. In such cases the court shall determine the matter de novo, and may examine the contents of such records in camera to determine whether such records or any part thereof shall be withheld under any of the exemptions set forth in § 2-534.
(c) If a person seeking the right to inspect or to receive a copy of a public record prevails in whole or in part in such suit, he or she may be awarded reasonable attorney fees and other costs of litigation.
(d) Any person who commits an arbitrary or capricious violation of the provisions of this subchapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $100.00. A prosecution under this section may only be commenced by the issuance of a citation, which shall be personally served upon the defendant. The defendant shall not be arrested prior to the time of trial, except that a defendant who fails to appear for arraignment or trial may be arrested pursuant to a bench warrant and required to post a bond to secure his or her future appearance.
(e) All employees of the District government are responsible for compliance with the provisions of this subchapter, and this requirement shall be incorporated in section 1803 of Title 6 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations.