You have received a Final Determination from one of the OOR's Appeals Officers. What happens next?
If either party disagrees with the OOR's Final Determination, they may appeal to the appellate court with jurisdiction over the matter. Appeals of decisions involving Commonwealth, judicial, or legislative agencies are heard by the Commonwealth Court. Appeals of decisions involving local agencies are heard by the court of common pleas where the local agency is located. Appeals of an OOR Final Determination must be filed within thirty (30) days of the mailing date of the Final Determination. An appeal stays the release of records until the court decides the matter.
The OOR also accepts Petitions for Reconsideration, subject to 1 Pa. Code § 35.241. Petitions for Reconsideration must be filed within fifteen (15) days of the mailing date of the Final Determination and must concisely state the alleged errors in the Final Determination. Petitions for Reconsideration shall be directed to the OOR's Chief Counsel. The OOR is unable to accept any new evidence on reconsideration. A Petition for Reconsideration will be deemed denied if no response is made by the OOR within 30 day after it is filed. Please refer to 1 Pa. Code § 35.241 to determine what effect filing a Petition for Reconsideration may have on your ability to also appeal to an appellate court.
If neither party appeals the OOR's Final Determination, it becomes a binding, enforceable order on the 31st day after the Final Determination is mailed. As of that date, if the agency has not provided documents as ordered by the OOR, the requester may seek to enforce the order in court. If the agency involved is a Commonwealth agency, the requester must file a petition to enforce pursuant to Pa. R.A.P. 3761(b), Enforcement of Final Determinations of the Office of Open Records, available at http://www.pacodeandbulletin.gov/secure/pacode/data/210/chapter37/210_0037.pdf. If the agency involved is a local agency, the requester may file an action in mandamus or other petition as authorized by any local rule of court. Capinski v. Upper Pottsgrove Twp., 164 A.3d 601 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2017).
If you have questions about any of the above courses of action, you should seek the advice of legal counsel. The Pennsylvania Bar Association has a Lawyer Referral Service that can help you find an attorney: https://www.pabar.org/site/For-the-Public/Find-a-Lawyer. The OOR is unable to provide you any legal advice with how to proceed. As the quasi-judicial tribunal that adjudicated the matter and issued a Final Determination, the OOR is not a proper party to any appellate action.