The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act Treatise, 6th Edition

Since its first edition, published in 1988, a 582 page expertly and comprehensively written treatise, THE ARKANSAS FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT, has become the standard reference for judges, attorneys and journalists for guidance and interpretation of the State’s open records and sunshine law.  It has also served as the FOIA “Bible” for countless county, school and city officials as they have sought to better understand the intent and mandates of that important law dealing with openness and transparency which was adopted by the Arkansas Legislature in 1967.

The sixth edition, published in 2017--fifty years after the passage of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act under the governorship of Winthrop Rockefeller--builds upon it predecessors.  The treatise incorporates later legislative enactments, judicial decisions and Attorney General’s opinions to present a practical and easy to comprehend interpretation of citizen rights to access public records and to attend public meetings maintained and/or conducted within the State of Arkansas. View Table of Contents. Purchase at Amazon.

Coauthored by Dr. John J. Watkins, Dr. Richard J. Peltz-Steele and Dr. Robert Steinbuch, the sixth edition is a “must possess and must read” publication for any individual desiring to learn about the mandates of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act and the true meaning of an open and transparent government.  Dr. Watkins is the Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville.  He has written extensively on issues of Arkansas law and has been honored by the Arkansas Bar Association for “distinguished service to the legal profession”.  Dr. Peltz-Steele is Professor of Law at the University of Massachusetts School of Law and the author of books on freedom of information and the law of torts.  Among his other publications are articles in foreign journals concerning issues of international media law and policy.  Dr. Steinbuch is Professor of Law at the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock.  A former lawyer at the US Department of Justice, he has published widely in professional journals and has testified before various committees of the US Congress and the Arkansas General Assembly.

THE ARKANSAS FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT is a well researched, well written and easy to understanding treatise concerning a topic which relates to, and impacts upon, each and every citizen of the State of Arkansas.  The seven chapters of the document provide an in-depth look into the background and tradition of Arkansas law concerning citizen rights to inspect governmental records and to attend meetings of governmental bodies.  The authors discuss the threshold question in any Freedom Information Act case--whether or not a particular entity is covered by the Act.  One chapter of the treatise is devoted to a look at “open records” while another chapter provides a thorough discussion of “open meetings”.  The treatise coauthors also write about “enforcement” of the State statute asserting that the 1967 Act, as amended, specifically provides a mechanism by which an Arkansas citizen, denied his or her rights under the Act, may challenge that denial in an appropriate circuit court.

The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act of 1967, as amended, can be utilized as an alternative to the discovery of facts in both civil cases and in administrative proceedings, and the coauthors of the treatise provide much information concerning this important topic.  The coauthors also realized the importance and complexity of citizen interest which arises in connection with access to public records in electronic form which are maintained by governmental and/or nonpublic entities.

Residents of Arkansas--be they regular citizens, members of a governmental body or participants in a community nonprofit group--will readily discover that a thorough review of THE ARKANSAS FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT treatise will pay dividends as they seek to better understand all facets of the law that serve to open and make more transparent the working of those agencies operating within the State which utilize taxpayer dollars.  Copies of this valuable treatise may be obtained by contacting the University of Arkansas Press at Fayetteville or the Chicago Distribution Center in Chicago, Illinois. It may also be purchased at Amazon.