Navigating the System
“The liberties of people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”
— Patrick Henry, June 5, 1788
Your Right to Get Public Information & Attend Public Meetings
The Delaware Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) begins with the presumption that government meetings and public records are open and readily available to the citizens of the First State unless a specific exemption applies.
Getting Public Records
Any citizen may ask to see public records and may request copies of those records in any format or medium used by the public body itself. If requested records are not available at the time of the request, an appointment will be made to provide the records as quickly as possible. Any reasonable expense involved in the copying of such records will be charged to the citizen making the request.
Attending Public Meetings
Citizen may attend meetings of all public bodies, unless a body is specifically exempted. Executive sessions closed to the public may be held only for the discussion of public business, and all voting on public business must take place at a public meeting and the results of the vote made public. Notice of any public meeting (open or closed), including the date, time, place and the meeting agenda (subject to change) must be posted at least 7 days in advance of the meeting.
Minutes of all meetings must be made available for inspection and copying (unless disclosure would defeat the lawful purpose of an executive session), and they shall include names of those present, a record of each vote taken and action agreed upon.
Enforcing Your Rights
If you think you have been wrongfully denied access to public information or that action at a public meeting was in violation of FOIA and you cannot work out a satisfactory solution, you may file a lawsuit within 60 days asking for an injunction, a declaratory judgment or a writ of mandamus (the government will be ordered to do or not to do some specific act). If you win, the court may award attorney fees and costs. If you lose, the court may award attorney fees and costs to the defendant, but only if your suit was deemed frivolous or brought solely for the purpose of harassment.
• Notes on Delaware FOIA Statutes
Navigating the System
Here are some useful links to state, county and local government bodies and agencies that will help you better understand and exercise your FOI rights.
Delaware – The First State
Official Web site of the State of Delaware
Through its award-winning Web site, the State of Delaware provides comprehensive information not only about the operation of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, but also about state agencies, corporations, cities and towns, historical and cultural affairs, schools, elections, taxes, travel, the weather, things of interest for and about Kids (homework help, see and do, resources for parents) and much more.
• Delaware Constitution – The Government of Delaware
All just authority in the institutions of political society is derived from the people, and established with their consent, to advance their happiness; and they may for this end, as circumstances require, from time to time, alter their Constitution of government.
From the Preamble
– Index to the Constitution (Delaware Code)
All Delaware laws that have been enacted or amended since 1999 now have links that show the original legislation that produced or changed that section of the code.
– Page through the Constitution
- Delaware Elected Officials – National, State and Local
Name, office held, mailing address, phone numbers, e-mail address
– The Governor’s Cabinet (appointed)
– General Assembly (schedule, committees, ready list, more)
– Find your electoral district (click on district to see map)
The Delaware State Courts official Web site provides information on civil, criminal and family matters. You also will find information about court proceedings, instructions to fill out forms, fee schedules, self-help center locations, contacts for legal assistance, child support calculation, and traffic and appeal information.
Visit Courts to learn more about the jurisdiction, judicial officers, history, governance, programs, hours and locations of each court in the Delaware State Court system. There also are Quick Links to Electronic Filing, Education and Community Outreach, Mental Health Task Force, Project Rightful Owner, Career Opportunities, Juror Information, Court Rules, Self-Help Information and Hours & Locations.
Court opinions for all levels of courts can be accessed for free. In case of discrepancies between the print and electronic versions of orders, the print
version controls. In case of discrepancies between the print and electronic versions of orders and any later official version of them, the later version controls. No other routine electronic access to other types of court records in Delaware currently exists.
- Delaware State Agencies
Delaware Cities and Municipalities
• Delaware League of Local Governments