The Arizona Public Records Law, defined in Title 39 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, requires public agencies to maintain records that are “reasonably necessary or appropriate to maintain an accurate knowledge of their official activities and of any of their activities which are supported by monies from this state or any political subdivision of the state.”
That means if a record is necessary to understand the publicly funded activities of government entities, then it’s a public record. This applies to records from any state, municipal or county government agency.
The law also is direct in its intent: "Public records and other matters in the custody of any officer shall be open to inspection by any person at all times during office hours." What does that mean? In a very real sense, you should be allowed to walk into a public agency, ask to see a public record, and see it within a reasonable time period. If an agency denies your request for records, it must provide you with the legal basis for its refusal in writing. When in doubt, Arizona courts say to err on the side of disclosure.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office has published a guide for state agencies that provides a detailed analysis of how the public records law is to be applied and what exceptions to disclosure may appropriately be made. That document can be viewed by clicking here.
Title 39 of the Arizona Revised Statutes can be read in its entirety on the Arizona Legislature’s website by clicking here.
For common questions and answers about the Arizona Public Records Law, please refer to our FAQ section, or visit the Arizona Ombudsman-Citizen Aide web page about public records.