Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1952 No. 227 -
Attorney General Smith Troy


Official custodians of public records required for presentation of claims to the Veterans Administration are required to furnish them free of charge.

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                                                                 January 28, 1952

Honorable E. B. Riley,Director
Veterans' Rehabilitation Council
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                  Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 227

Attention:  !ttEdwin W. Schultz, Asst. Director

Dear Sir:

            Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of January 21, 1952, in which you request our opinion relative to the coverage of section 16, chapter 53, Laws of 1951.  Specifically you inquire

            "Is this a general section and does it cover every instance where documents are required for the purpose of substantiating claims against the Veterans Administration?

            "Does it mean that documents must be furnished absolutely free or that a charge may be made for searching the files and transcribing the material?"

            It is our conclusion that this is a general section and covers every type of document which may be required for the purpose of substantiating claims against the Veterans Administration.

            It is further our opinion that this section requires that the document be furnished free and that no charge be made for searching the files or transcribing the material.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]


            Section 16, chapter 53, Laws of 1951, which is included in the Uniform Veterans' Guardianship Act, reads as follows:

            "When a copy of any public record is required by the veterans administration to be used in determining the eligibility of any person to participate in benefits made available by the veterans administration, the official custodian of such public record shall without charge provide the applicant for such benefits or any person acting on his behalf or the authorized representative of the veterans administration with a certified copy of such record."

            It will be noted that this section does not limit the type of documents to be furnished to those connected with guardianship cases.  It specifically provides for furnishing documents free of charge whenever required by the Veterans' Administration to be used in determining the eligibility of any person to participate in the benefits made available by the Veterans' Administration.  The title to the act contained a reference to this general provision, the second clause of the title being

            "* * * providing for furnishing free copies of public records required by the veterans administration; * * *"

            In our opinion section 16 must be interpreted to mean exactly what it says.  Since the statute speaks in terms of furnishing without charge a certified copy of the record, it implies that the official custodian of the record shall do whatever shall be necessary to furnish such a certified copy without charge.  That would include, when necessary, the searching of the files and the transcribing of the material.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General