Sample FOIA in a Drunk Driving Case
The Michigan Freedom of Information Act, Public Act 442 of 1976, MCLA 15.231 et seq., declares that it is Michigan's public policy "that all persons, except those persons incarcerated in state or local correctional facilities, are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and public employees." By using FOIA to compel production of materials in a drunk driving case, the "public record" that is "prepared, owned, used, in the possession of, or retained by a public body in the performance of an official function, from the time it is created" must be disclosed unless it falls into a recognized exemption under the Act.
These public records may include a variety of documents that will not usually be included in a criminal prosecution unless it helps the police and prosecution. The police and prosecutor can review these materials at their leisure, but if they are not requested by the defense, they will not normally be produced for review. Potentially, these documents can provide proof that a) the stop was unlawful, b) the arrest was not supported by probable cause, c) the chemical testing was done improperly, or d) the police did something else wrong.
FOIA provides a simple method for obtaining access to documents that you need to prepare your defense. A sample FOIA appears like this:
[police agency name]
[police agency address]
[city / state / zipcode]
Re: CASE NAME, CASE NO., TICKET NO.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST
I am hereby making the following information request pursuant to the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, MCL 15.231 et. seq. Please provide copies of all of the following documents within your department's files, or any governmental subdivision therein:
1. Patrol car videos and accompanying audio: From the squad car of the arresting officer, [Officer's Name] , showing all observations of my driving and other behavior leading up to the traffic stop, and all field sobriety tests, preliminary breath tests and the arrest on [arrest date] , at approximately [time] .
2. Datamaster observation video and accompanying audio: any and all video and audio recordings of me at least 20 minutes prior to and during administration of the Datamaster testing on [arrest date] , at approximately [time] .
Please send me an invoice for the above materials, and I will promptly pay for and pick up the documents.