Definition of Public Record

Records are defined as “all books, records, papers, accounts, letters, maps, photographs, films, cards, tapes, recordings or reproductions thereof, and any other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, having been used, being in use, or prepared, possessed or retained for use in the conduct, transaction or performance of any business, transaction, work, duty or function of any public body, or required to be maintained by any public body.” 1

Exemptions to Public Records

Exempt: Personnel matters; employment applications; individual tax records; academic examination questions; appraisal information concerning the sale or purchase of property for public purposes; and attorney work product concerning litigation. 2

Who Can Make The Request?


Response Timeframe

The Mississippi Public Records Act states that, if not decided upon by the individual department, departments have one working day to respond to PRA requests. However, departments may establish their own time limits of up to fourteen working days. 3

Information on Fees

Fees must be “reasonably calculated to reimburse [the public body] for, and in no case to exceed, the actual cost of searching, reviewing and/or duplicating and, if applicable, mailing.” § 25-61-7(1). An agency may not charge more than “actual cost,” Roberts v. Miss. Republican Party State Executive Comm., 465 So. 2d 1050, 1054 (Miss. 1985). This was held to apply even when a city conducted expensive aerial photography and mapping of local areas. See Att’y Gen. Oct. 5, 1994 to Gex.  There is no statutory authority for chancery clerks to charge a flat monthly fee to abstractors for use of their office fax machine to transmit records to members of the public.  Att’y Gen. No. 2002-344, Sept. 13, 2002 to Crook.  Where the statute authorizes a court clerk to charge a fee, the fee does not count against the cap on the clerk’s compensation.  Att’y Gen. No. 96-003, Feb. 7, 1996 to Carpenter. 4

Enforcement Mechanisms

The act may be enforced either through the Mississippi Ethics Commission or through a lawsuit filed in chancery court. In court, suit must be filed in the chancery court of the county in which the public body sits. § 25-61-13(1). Proceedings take precedence over all other matters on the court docket. § 25-61-13(3). 5

Attorney Fees

Yes, you can win attorney’s fees. 6

Do You Want to Make a Public Records Request?

The public records process begins with a public records request. Our guide outlines best practices for drafting well-defined requests for public information.

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Questions? Contact the Goldwater Institute.

If you have any questions regarding this guide or your rights to public information, please contact the Goldwater Institute at info@goldwaterinstitute.org to determine if the Institute can help you access information necessary to hold your government accountable.

Goldwater Institute