A bill expediting New York's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) appeals process was signed into law by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on November 28, 2016. The legislation (A9711/S6865) will require state agencies to appeal adverse court disclosure orders to the state Supreme Court, Appellate Division within a significantly shorter time frame than previously required under state law.
In cases where a party has appealed a state agency's denial of its FOIL request and the party goes on to successfully win the appeal in state Supreme Court, requiring the disclosure of records, the agency now has only 60 days to file an appeal of the decision in the Appellate Division. The appeal will be given preference on the court's docket under the new law. An extension of the 60 days may be granted only for good cause shown or if all parties to the matter have consented to the request.
The 60-day deadline to file is a significant change to the FOIL law. Previously, state agencies had nine months to file an appeal in the Appellate Division. Critics of the prior law contended that this unnecessarily slowed down the FOIL process. A memo issued in support of the Governor's approval of the bill noted that a reduction in time was viable given that state agencies "have significant expertise and resources, which renders such a shortened timeframe to appeal reasonable." The Governor was criticized for vetoing a similar bill during the 2015 legislative session on the grounds that it did not include language providing courts discretion to grant an extension of time. As noted, the new law, which will take effect on May 27, 2017, gives the court the ability to extend the 60-day deadline.