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Suffolk County Traffic Agency faces Freedom of Information Law

Cory H. Morris, described by the Second Department Appellate Court as "a law firm, [that] represents clients in relation to alleged traffic violations before the respondent Suffolk County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency (hereinafter the Agency)," sued for accountability in relation to the lack of, among other things, due process in traffic court proceedings on Suffolk County, New York. Our law firm brought this lawsuit and prevailed in the higher court for transparency in Suffolk County, NY traffic proceedings.

While all lawyers take an oath to uphold the constitution, traffic lawyers or traffic-ticket lawyers, may plea bargain or goto trial. Few Suffolk County Traffic Lawyers take appeals nevertheless sue the Suffolk County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency, also known as the Suffolk County TPVA or Suffolk TPVA, when the Traffic Agency decides to railroad a client: The Law Offices of Cory H. Morris was different.

In a traffic trial, Cory Morris did serve Notice of a Freedom of Information Law ("FOIL") lawsuit. The Second Department, Supreme Court, notes that "on December 17, 2018, the petitioner commenced this proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78, inter alia, to compel disclosure of records responsive to its FOIL request against Suffolk County, the Agency, and the FOIL appeals officer." Instead of address the matter on the merits, the Suffolk TPVA decided to claim "that the petitioner lacked standing to bring this proceeding because its FOIL request was made on behalf of a client." This was wrong.

The Matter of Law Offices of Cory H. Morris vs. Suffolk County TPVA (the later one of two cases with this caption) is important for standing in a FOIL, a Freedom of Information Law, Matter because the law office represented not only the traffic client, one who was facing a Suffolk County Traffic Ticket but also a systematic abuse of statutory and civil rights by the Suffolk County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency. The client, who I feel was wronged, was done with her traffic ticket in 2018 but the office was not - we sued and continue to pursue accountability in Suffolk County. As for standing:

"To establish standing to challenge an administrative determination" in an article 78 proceeding, "a petitioner must show that it will suffer an injury-in-fact and that the alleged injury falls within the zone of interest sought to be protected by the statute" (Matter of Veteri v Zoning Bd. of Appeals of the Town of Kent, 202 AD3d 975, 979). "In order to promote open government and public accountability, FOIL imposes a broad duty on government to make its records available to the public" (Matter of Tuckahoe Common Sch. Dist. v Town of Southampton, 179 AD3d 929, 930). "Any `person denied access to a record' may" pursue an administrative "appeal and," if unsuccessful, "seek judicial review of any adverse appeal determination" (Matter of Norton v Town of Islip, 17 AD3d 468, 470, citing Public Officers Law § 89[4][a], [b]; see Matter of Kirsch v Board of Educ. of Williamsville Cent. Sch. Dist., 152 AD3d 1218, 1218; Matter of Gannett Satellite Info. Network, Inc. v County of Putnam, 142 AD3d 1012, 1017-1018). "Similarly, any person on whose behalf a FOIL request was made has standing to maintain a proceeding to review the denial of disclosure of the records requested" (Matter of Norton v Town of Islip, 17 AD3d at 470; see Matter of Barry v O'Neill, 185 AD3d 503, 505). FOIL therefore "confer[s] standing upon any person denied access to government records" to pursue an Article 78 proceeding challenging the denial (Community Bd. 7 of Borough of Manhattan v Schaffer, 84 NY2d 148, 159). Moreover, "the standing of one who seeks access to records under the Freedom of Information Law is as a member of the public, and is neither enhanced nor restricted because he is also a litigant or potential litigant" (Matter of John P. v Whalen, 54 NY2d 89, 99 [citations omitted]).
Here, the Supreme Court erred in concluding that the petitioner lacked standing to pursue this proceeding. The petitioner submitted the FOIL request to the Agency and its request was denied, both initially and on administrative appeal. Since the petitioner's FOIL request was denied, it had standing to seek judicial review of the Agency's determination (see Matter of Norton v Town of Islip, 17 AD3d at 470), regardless of whether it submitted the FOIL request, in whole or in part, on behalf of a client (see Matter of John P. v Whalen, 54 NY2d at 99). The petitioner's standing was not extinguished by the fact that its client also would have had standing to commence a proceeding challenging the denial of the FOIL request (see Matter of Norton v Town of Islip, 17 AD3d at 470).

The Second Judicial Department, New York Supreme Court required "the [Suffolk County Supreme Court] judgment is reversed, on the law, with costs, the petition is reinstated." In doing so, the Appeals Court cited Matter of Law Offs. of Cory H. Morris v Suffolk County, 216 AD3d 638, 641 and Matter of Law Offs. of Cory H. Morris v County of Nassau, 158 AD3d 630, 632), two other cases brought in the name of a lawyer for the sake of accountability of Long Island Traffic Agencies, Long Island Traffic and Parking Violations Tickets;

The case is The Matter of the Law Offices of Cory H. Morris v. Suffolk County, , 2023 N.Y. Slip Op 6046 (2nd Dep't. 2023) and is accessible online for free here; the official court reporter can be access here.

Cory H. Morris, Esq. New York and Florida, Injury, Addiction, Accident, Call the Law Offices of Cory H. Morris, 631-450-2515 (NYS) (954)-745-4592 (FLA)

Call 631-450-2515 or E-Mail to arrange for an evaluation of your traffic matter, criminal matter or appellate matter.


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