Definition of Public Record

Records are defined as any documents, no matter the physical form which are “made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any governmental agency.” 1

Exemptions to Public Records

Exempt: Medical records of patients in state institutions; some investigative records; public school student records; and some economic development issues, such as land acquisition. 2

Who Can Make The Request?

Any citizen of Tennessee. 3

Response Timeframe

7 days. 4

Information on Fees

.15 cents per page for each standard 8 ½ x11 or 8 ½ x14 black and white copy. .50 cents per page for each 8 ½ x11 or 8 ½ x14 color copy. The first hour of labor is free, but the records custodian is permitted to charge the hourly wage of the employee(s) reasonably necessary to produce the requested records. 5

Enforcement Mechanisms

Individual citizens. For sanctions, The Act allows for the recovery of court costs and attorney’s fees, but only if the refusal to disclose was willful. T.C.A. § 10-7-505(g). 6

Attorney Fees

The court has the discretion to award attorney’s fees if, “the court finds that a governmental entity, or agent thereof, refusing to disclose a record knew that such record was public and willfully refused to disclose it.” T.C.A. § 10-7-505(g) (1999). 7

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