Knowledgebase-Does the Tennessee Open Records Law Require a City to Mail Any Record to a Newspaper?


Information Product

Title:Does the Tennessee Open Records Law Require a City to Mail Any Record to a Newspaper?
Summary:MTAS was asked whether the city is required under the Tennessee Open Records Law to mail to a newspaper information packets it provides to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, or any other city records.
Original Author:Hemsley, Sid
Co-Author:
Product Create Date:02/10/99
Last Reviewed on::05/23/2017
Subject:Public information--Newsletters; Records management--Open records
Type:Legal Opinion
Legal Opinion:

Reference Documents:

Text of Document: Is the city required under the Tennessee Public Records Act to mail an individual making a request on behalf of a newspaper, information packets it provides to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, or any other city records?

The answer is yes, if the individual making the request on behalf of the newspaper is a Tennessee citizen and the information is not confidential.

Under T.C.A. 10-7-503, cities are required during normal business hours to make available for inspection, requested records that are not confidential under law, to any citizen of Tennessee. Additionally, T.C.A. 10-7-506 provides that anytime a requestor has the right to inspect records, the requestor also has the right to receive copies of the requested records. Courts in Tennessee have held that as long as a requestor can sufficiently identify the records being requested, the requestor's physical appearance before a records custodian is not required. Waller v. Bryan, 16 S.W. 3d 770, 774 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1999); Friedmann v. Marshall County, TN, 471 S.W. 3d 427, 435 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2015); Tennessean v. Electric Power Board of Nashville, 979 S.W. 2d 297, 303 (Tenn. 1998). However, as noted by the court in Waller, cities have the right to assess fees for the copies and the delivery of the requested records. Wallerat 774.

Please remember that these legal opinions were written based on the facts of a given city at a certain time. The laws referenced in any opinion may have changed or may not be applicable to your city or circumstances.

Always consult with your city attorney or an MTAS consultant before taking any action based on information contained in this database.