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Discovering E-Discovery: Florida Public Records

Overview

Florida's Sunshine and Open Records laws require disclosure by government entities of information that might not otherwise be available through the discovery process.

Government-in-the-Sunshine Manual

Florida Attorney General Open Government Website

First Amendment Foundation

Florida Constitution

Article I.  Declaration of Rights

SECTION 23.Right of privacy.Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life except as otherwise provided herein. This section shall not be construed to limit the public’s right of access to public records and meetings as provided by law.

History.Added, C.S. for H.J.R. 387, 1980; adopted 1980; Am. proposed by Constitution Revision Commission, Revision No. 13, 1998, filed with the Secretary of State May 5, 1998; adopted 1998.

Article I.  Declaration of Rights

SECTION 24.Access to public records and meetings.

(a) Every person has the right to inspect or copy any public record made or received in connection with the official business of any public body, officer, or employee of the state, or persons acting on their behalf, except with respect to records exempted pursuant to this section or specifically made confidential by this Constitution. This section specifically includes the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government and each agency or department created thereunder; counties, municipalities, and districts; and each constitutional officer, board, and commission, or entity created pursuant to law or this Constitution.
(b) All meetings of any collegial public body of the executive branch of state government or of any collegial public body of a county, municipality, school district, or special district, at which official acts are to be taken or at which public business of such body is to be transacted or discussed, shall be open and noticed to the public and meetings of the legislature shall be open and noticed as provided in Article III, Section 4(e), except with respect to meetings exempted pursuant to this section or specifically closed by this Constitution.
(c) This section shall be self-executing. The legislature, however, may provide by general law passed by a two-thirds vote of each house for the exemption of records from the requirements of subsection (a) and the exemption of meetings from the requirements of subsection (b), provided that such law shall state with specificity the public necessity justifying the exemption and shall be no broader than necessary to accomplish the stated purpose of the law. The legislature shall enact laws governing the enforcement of this section, including the maintenance, control, destruction, disposal, and disposition of records made public by this section, except that each house of the legislature may adopt rules governing the enforcement of this section in relation to records of the legislative branch. Laws enacted pursuant to this subsection shall contain only exemptions from the requirements of subsections (a) or (b) and provisions governing the enforcement of this section, and shall relate to one subject.
(d) All laws that are in effect on July 1, 1993 that limit public access to records or meetings shall remain in force, and such laws apply to records of the legislative and judicial branches, until they are repealed. Rules of court that are in effect on the date of adoption of this section that limit access to records shall remain in effect until they are repealed.
History.Added, C.S. for C.S. for H.J.R.’s 1727, 863, 2035, 1992; adopted 1992; Am. S.J.R. 1284, 2002; adopted 2002.

Article X.  Miscellaneous

SECTION 25.Patients’ right to know about adverse medical incidents.

(a) In addition to any other similar rights provided herein or by general law, patients have a right to have access to any records made or received in the course of business by a health care facility or provider relating to any adverse medical incident.
(b) In providing such access, the identity of patients involved in the incidents shall not be disclosed, and any privacy restrictions imposed by federal law shall be maintained.
(c) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) The phrases “health care facility” and “health care provider” have the meaning given in general law related to a patient’s rights and responsibilities.
(2) The term “patient” means an individual who has sought, is seeking, is undergoing, or has undergone care or treatment in a health care facility or by a health care provider.
(3) The phrase “adverse medical incident” means medical negligence, intentional misconduct, and any other act, neglect, or default of a health care facility or health care provider that caused or could have caused injury to or death of a patient, including, but not limited to, those incidents that are required by state or federal law to be reported to any governmental agency or body, and incidents that are reported to or reviewed by any health care facility peer review, risk management, quality assurance, credentials, or similar committee, or any representative of any such committees.
(4) The phrase “have access to any records” means, in addition to any other procedure for producing such records provided by general law, making the records available for inspection and copying upon formal or informal request by the patient or a representative of the patient, provided that current records which have been made publicly available by publication or on the Internet may be “provided” by reference to the location at which the records are publicly available.
History.Proposed by Initiative Petition filed with the Secretary of State April 1, 2003; adopted 2004.
1Note.

A. This section, originally designated section 22 by Amendment No. 7, 2004, proposed by Initiative Petition filed with the Secretary of State April 1, 2003, adopted 2004, was redesignated section 25 by the editors in order to avoid confusion with section 22, relating to parental notice of termination of a minor’s pregnancy, as contained in Amendment No. 1, 2004, added by H.J.R. 1, 2004, adopted 2004.

B. Amendment No. 7, 2004, proposed by Initiative Petition filed with the Secretary of State April 1, 2003, adopted 2004, published “[f]ull [t]ext” consisting of a statement and purpose, the actual amendment “inserting the following new section at the end [of Art. X],” and an effective date and severability provision not specifically included in the amendment text. The effective date and severability provision reads:

3) Effective Date and Severability:

This amendment shall be effective on the date it is approved by the electorate. If any portion of this measure is held invalid for any reason, the remaining portion of this measure, to the fullest extent possible, shall be severed from the void portion and given the fullest possible force and application.

Continuing Legal Education Materials

The Florida Bar, Sunshine Law, Public Records & Ethics, Course No. 1444R (Feb. 8, 2013).  Law: KFF427.8 P8 S8 2013.

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