You’ve been at the sorry end of a police interaction that you feel was unjustified. There was no arrest, no criminal case, but an indignity nonetheless. Life seems to move on for the officer, but you can’t shake the cloud of the affair. You want to know what the police were really thinking; you want to learn what they reported. The officer won’t talk to you, or maybe you’re too intimidated to reach out. Is there a report you can get? Usually there is.
New Hampshire has a broad public records law called the Right-to-Know law. Nearly any record generated or maintained by the government that describes what it’s doing belongs to the people. You have the right to inspect the document free of charge and even get a copy for a nominal fee. More importantly, there is no special form for requesting the document. All you need to do is reasonably describe the document you’re looking for to the right public body. To make things easier, New Hampshire’s Constitution embraces the idea that if you’re having trouble, government officials are obligated to provide some assistance.
Keep in mind that the government has no need to know who you are other than for knowing where to send a document (if that’s what you request). The government cannot insist that you reveal your identity to gain access to public documents if you’re trying to stay anonymous. More importantly, it is improper for the government to ask your purpose or motive in gathering records.
Finally, if you make your request and believe the government is unreasonably withholding the documents you requested, it’s worth speaking to a lawyer to figure out what options you have to fight back. You can start by calling us at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C., (603) 288-1403 or fill out our online contact form.