Public Records Policy
“It is the policy of this subchapter to provide for free and open examination of records consistent with Chapter I, Article 6 of the Vermont Constitution. Officers of government are trustees and servants of the people and it is in the public interest to enable any person to review and criticize their decisions even though such examination may cause inconvenience or embarrassment. All people, however, have a right to privacy in their personal and economic pursuits, which ought to be protected unless specific information is needed to review the action of a governmental officer. Consistent with these principles, the general assembly hereby declares that certain public records shall be made available to any person as hereinafter provided. To that end, the provisions of this subchapter shall be liberally construed to implement this policy, and the burden of proof shall be on the public agency to sustain its action.”
– 1 V.S.A. § 315
The statement of policy found in 1 V.S.A. §315 describes the rationale for affording access to public records. The language of this section originally was adopted through Act 231 of 1976, the first public records law. It remained unchanged until passage of Act 59 of 2011 added that “the burden of proof shall be on the public agency to sustain its action” in regards to the public records act.
The policy's statement that the provisions of the public record law “shall be liberally construed with the view towards carrying out the provisions” allowing access to public records is frequently cited by Vermont courts in rulings on public record cases.