Date: August 17, 2017
Subject: Can a County Clerk of Court legally redact a date of birth and gender identification from a jury summons questionnaire when such questionnaire is requested as a public record?
129 Prospect Circle
Waterloo, Iowa 50701
Dear Mr. Bayer:
This opinion is in response to your letter of July 8, 2017, requesting an opinion from the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.6 and rule 497—1.2. We note at the outset that IPIB’s jurisdiction is limited to the application of Iowa Code chapters 21, 22, and 23, and rules in Iowa Administrative Code chapter 497. Advice in a Board opinion, if followed, constitutes a defense to a subsequent complaint based on the same facts and circumstances.
FACTUAL STATEMENT: You request an opinion concerning the legality of an action taken by the Black Hawk County Clerk of Court in redacting certain identifying information (date of birth and gender) from documents provided to you pursuant to your request for copies of jury questionnaires from individuals who had been disqualified because they were not citizens. You requested this information on March 13, 2015. On May 6, 2015, you were contacted and told that the Iowa Attorney General’s office had reviewed your request and authorized the release of information, as long as the date of birth and gender were redacted from each questionnaire.
- When requesting from the County Clerk of Court a list of people who returned the jury summons questionnaire and responded that they are not a U.S. citizen, can the date of birth and gender be legally redacted?
The question you ask is not within the jurisdiction of the Board. Rule 497-1.2 states:
497—1.2(23) Requirements for requesting board advisory opinions. 1.2(1) Jurisdiction. The board will only issue advisory opinions pertaining to Iowa Code chapters 21 and 22, or rules adopted thereunder. The board shall not have jurisdiction over the judicial or legislative branches of state government or any entity, officer, or employee of those branches, or over the governor or the office of the governor.
The IPIB does not have the authority to issue a formal opinion concerning the legality of an action by the judicial branch, which includes the clerks of court. You cite Iowa Code section 607A.47 as the section of code to be interpreted. The IPIB does not have the authority to issue a formal opinion concerning that code section.
Pursuant to Iowa Administrative Rule 497-1.3(3), a person who has received a board opinion may, within 30 days after the issuance of the opinion, request modification or reconsideration of the opinion. A request for modification or reconsideration shall be deemed denied unless the board acts upon the request within 60 days of receipt of the request. The IPIB may take up modification or reconsideration of an advisory opinion on its own motion within 30 days after the issuance of an opinion.
Pursuant to Iowa Administrative Rule 497-1.3(5), a person who has received a board opinion or advice may petition for a declaratory order pursuant to Iowa Code section 17A.9. The IPIB may refuse to issue a declaratory order to a person who has previously received a board opinion on the same question, unless the requestor demonstrates a significant change in circumstances from those in the board opinion.
BY DIRECTION AND VOTE OF THE BOARD
Mary Ungs-Sogaard, Chair
E. J. Giovannetti
Margaret E. Johnson, Executive Director