Animal Legal Defense Fund Responds to the University of Minnesota’s Denial of SecrecyNovember 26th, 2012
For immediate release
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF
MINNEAPOLIS — Recently, ALDF filed a complaint against the University of Minnesota for refusing access to public meetings, unreasonably delaying production of records pursuant to a valid public records request, and denying a request to inspect public videos. All of ALDF’s claims have merit.
The Minnesota Open Meetings Law requires that all committee meetings of public bodies are open to the public. The University of Minnesota is a public body and the University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is a committee of the University. The IACUC reviews all projects involving animals in research to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
Likewise, the Minnesota Government Data Practices, the state’s open records statute, requires University records be made available to the public upon request. ALDF sent an original request for records in April 2012. After months of communication, ALDF significantly narrowed its original request. Yet the University delayed the production of records by consistently, ignoring ALDF’s communications, even after ALDF paid for records. While the University has not denied ALDF’s request, it has also not complied. This perpetual delay and lack of communication from the University is a violation of the open records law.
Similarly, Isaac Peter submitted a public records request to the University in April 2012 and received elusive treatment. Furthermore, Isaac requested to inspect records at the University with his own computer, as the open records statute specifically allows. The University denied Isaac’s request and refused to allow Isaac to inspect records unless he uses the University’s equipment. This too is a blatant violation of the Minnesota’s open records law.
“Minnesota’s open meeting and open records laws allows citizens access to the decisions of public bodies. The University is a public body and must abide by these laws,” says Carter Dillard, director of litigation for ALDF. “ALDF’s lawsuit against the University is based on violations of these laws and therefore has clear merit.”Copies of the lawsuit are available upon request.