Q. I am seeking e-mails sent or received through a State University of New York account that meet certain specific parameters. Generally speaking, they would include financial arrangements, including research funding, made between a retired employee and employees or representatives of outside corporations or organizations organizations. Are you aware of any state-level litigation that has addressed this issue?
A. Not offhand, though the general issue of what constitutes a public or agency records is frequently litigated. In that respect, the mode of communication is a less significant factor than the content and purpose of the communication. Thus, business-related emails sent through private accounts are more likely to be considered agency records, and personal emails sent through agency accounts are more likely to be considered non-agency records. If the retired employee in your scenario was acting on his own behalf rather than on behalf of the university, I do not believe the employee's mere use of a university email account would obligate the university to search for the records you seek.