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Original Author: Hemsley, Sid
Date of Material: 02/10/1999

Subjects(s):
Public information--Newsletters
Records management--Open records

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

Reviewed Date: 07/06/2021
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.


Is the city required under the Tennessee Public Records Actto 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.