The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined judicial questionnaires filled out by applicants for city judicial positions were protected from the FOIL request by the personal privacy exemption. The First Department noted that it did not have the authority in an article 78 proceeding to consider an unpreserved issue in the interest of justice:
… [T]he City properly applied the personal privacy exemption (Public Officer’s Law § 89[a]) to deny petitioner’s FOIL request in its entirety, as the City sustained its burden of establishing that disclosure of the records sought in this case — “all Uniform Judicial Questionnaires for applicants . . . under review by the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary” as of October 21, 2020 — would “constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” (Public Officers Law § 87[b] …). Disclosure of the questionnaire, which states the word “CONFIDENTIAL” in upper-case letters and boldface near the top of its first page, would undermine the assurances of confidentiality provided to candidates for judicial office … .
Moreover, disclosure would create a chilling effect, thus potentially diminishing the candor of applicants and causing others to decide against applying for judicial positions. The questionnaire contains extensive questions touching on highly personal and sensitive matters, such as personal relationships, reasons for leaving jobs, reasons for periods of unemployment, substance abuse, arrests, criminal convictions, testifying as a witness in criminal cases, and reasons for anticipated difficulty in handling the stresses involved in being a judge, as well as a catch-all question at the end of the questionnaire asking for any other information, specifically including unfavorable information, that could bear on the evaluation of the judicial candidate. In addition to the particular contents of the questionnaires, disclosure of the very fact that certain candidates submitted the questionnaires could harm those persons’ reputations by revealing that they sought to leave their jobs, or were unsuccessful in their applications for judicial positions … . Matter of Fisher v City of N.Y. Off. of the Mayor, 2023 NY Slip Op 05468, First Dept 10-31-23
Practice Point: Here the questionnaires filled out by applicants for city judicial positions were protected from the FOIL request by the personal privacy exemption.
Practice Point: In an article 78 proceeding an appellate court cannot consider an unpreserved issue in the interest of justice.