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Freedom of Information Law

The County Clerk is an independently elected official responsible for recording, filing and maintaining a central repository of legal documents and records affecting property titles, including land and real estate transactions, those documents related to corporate filings, assumed names, and, as Clerk of the Supreme and County Courts, all court pleadings and papers.  Because the majority of records maintained by the Clerk’s Office are already public records and easily accessible either through the internet site of http://ecclerk.erie.gov/recordsng_web/ or at the public computers in the Clerk’s Office, there is no need to resort to New York State’s Freedom of Information (“FOIL”), codified as the Public Officers Law, Article 6, §§84-90, to obtain copies of particular documents. 

You may simply make your "Public Records Request" in person or in writing to the attention of:  County Clerk Archives, Erie County Clerk’s Office, 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, New York 14202.  More information may be found by clicking here. New York State’s Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”), codified as the Public Officers Law, Article 6, §§84-90, allows members of the public the right to access government records, with certain Exceptions that are enumerated in §87(2) . 

However, for additional records as defined in the FOIL statute,  or records that may not be maintained or produced in an easily accessible format, a request may be made to the Clerk’s Office pursuant to FOIL.   Based upon the legislative intent to promote open government and public accountability for governmental actions, Freedom of Information Law provides a means of access to the records of government,  with certain Exceptions that are enumerated in Public Officers Law §87(2) . The full text of FOIL and other information about the law is available at the New York State Committee on Open Government’s website.

What is a Record?
The Freedom of Information Law defines a record to be “any information kept, held, filed, produced or reproduced by, with, or for an agency or the state legislature, in any physical form whatsoever.” Under the law, all records are accessible, except records or portions of records that fall within one of nine categories of deniable records as stated in §87(2) of the Public Officer’s Law. Furthermore, the law provides access to existing records, and therefore, an agency need not create a record in response to a request. Because the majority of records maintained in the Clerk’s Office are already deemed to be public records, the Freedom of Information Law is redundant.  Copies may easily be obtained by requesting same in person or in writing by simply addressing your request to the Clerk’s Office without resort to the Freedom of Information provisions.

How to Submit Request for Records
You may choose to submit your request pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Law.   If you do, your request for records must be in writing and can be emailed, faxed or mailed to the attention of Patricia L. Fulwiler, Deputy County Clerk – Legal, the FOIL Officer for the Erie County Clerk’s Office. 

Click here for a printable request form to submit.

If emailed, send to ECCOFOIL@erie.gov.

If faxed, send to FOIL Request, Patricia L. Fulwiler, Deputy County Clerk – Legal, fax number (716) 858-6550.

If mailed, send to: FOIL Request, Patricia L. Fulwiler, Deputy County Clerk – Legal, Erie County Clerk’s Office, 92 Franklin, Buffalo, New York 14202.

Please click here to view a directory of the County's departmental FOIL Officers.  If you are requesting documents from a department that does not maintain those records, you will be notified, as such, in writing. 

NOTE, each independent office within Erie County Government (Board of Elections, County Executive, Comptroller, District Attorney, Legislature, and Sheriff), administers their own separate FOIL processes with both an internal FOIL Officer and FOIL Appeals Officer.  Please contact those offices independently for details on how to submit a FOIL request or to appeal a FOIL decision.

Additionally, in accordance with the Public Officers Law § 89(3)(b), Erie County also affords you the opportunity to submit records access requests by email by completing the relevant portions of the electronic form below and directing it to the Erie County department or office that is a custodian of the requested records.  

Submit a FOIL Request

When making a request, Please describe in detail the records that you are seeking and include your phone number and mailing address so our office can contact you with any questions.   If possible, you should include name of document requested, date of filing, name(s) of persons affected, file designations, or any other information that will help to find requested records.  Information regarding specific types of records may be found here

In addition, please include a self-addressed postage paid return envelope. 

Please note that the Erie County Clerk’s Office is an independently elected office within County government and as such, administers its own FOIL request and appeals process, independent of the current administration's process.

If neither a response to a request nor an acknowledgement of receipt of a request is given, a request may be considered to have been constructively denied.  Therefore, the denial may be appealed in accordance with §89(4)(a) of the Public Officers Law.

How to Appeal a FOIL Decision
A denial of access to records must be in writing, stating the reason for the denial, and advising you of your right to appeal to the head or governing body of the agency or the person designated to hear appeals by the head or governing body of the agency.

You may appeal within thirty (30) days of the denial. Upon receipt of the appeal, the Appeals Officer will independently review the withheld records and the reasons provided for withholding them and make a final determination as to whether they were improperly withheld or must be released. The Appeals Officer has ten (10) business days to fully explain in writing the reasons for further denial of access or to provide access to the records.

Copies of all appeals and the determinations must be sent by the agency to the Committee on Open Government. Public Officers Law §89(4)(a). This requirement enables the Committee on Open Government to monitor compliance with the law and intercede when a denial of access may be improper. Furthermore, you may seek judicial review of a final agency denial by means of a proceeding initiated under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.

If you would like to appeal a decision, please contact the Erie County Clerk FOIL Appeals Officer, Peggy LaGree, at (phone) 716-858-2807; (fax) 716-858-6650; (mail) ECCO FOIL Appeals Officer, 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, NY 14202.

  Appeal a FOIL Decision

OR An Appeals form may be found by clicking here.

Additional information and documents on FOIL and the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") requests can be found below:
U.S. Department of Justice
NYS Committee on Open Government
Other NYS Agencies
Genealogy Records

Please click here for the NYS Committee on Open Government's Frequently Asked FOIL Questions.