Capital Newspapers v. Whalen is a 1987 case before the State of New York Court of Appeals concerning the New York Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).
The court held that documents can be considered public under FOIL regardless of whether the document has a governmental purpose.
The court noted that personal or unofficial documents intermingled with official government files being kept or held by a governmental entity are records covered under FOIL.
Ruling of the court
The court found nothing to suggest that the state legislature, when it passed FOIL, intended a "content-based limitation in defining the term 'record' . . . . Moreover . . . permitting an agency to engage in a unilateral prescreening of those documents which it deems to be outside the scope of FOIL would be inconsistent with [the statute]."