National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

Why Tennessee Is Challenging the DOJ’s Ethics

The Justice Department has picked a fight with an obscure ethics agency in Tennessee about how much evidence — called “discovery” — federal prosecutors should have to hand over to defense attorneys there. It’s the kind of little-noticed move the department makes all the time but could have a lasting impact on the criminal justice […]

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From Tennessee Coalition for Open Government: Proposed rule change could erode access to court records, lawyers say

Some of the state’s leading news media attorneys are concerned that a proposed expansion of rules on public access to court records in Tennessee is overly broad and could erode access at the trial court level.

The Tennessee Supreme Court has proposed changing Rule 34 “Policies and Guidelines Regarding Appellate Judicial Records,” which defines certain court records not open for inspection, such as unpublished drafts of judicial orders and opinions, for appellate courts.

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TCOG: Senate committee approves bill requiring more financial disclosure by lawmakers

Tennessee — The Senate State and Local Government Committee recommended for passage legislation that would require members of the General Assembly to disclose when they receive trips paid by a person with an interest in public policy.

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Tn. Coalition for Open Government: House committee passes bill allowing requests by email with some limits for “bad players”

The House State Government committee unanimously passed H.B. 58 this week, which would make clear that citizens may send records requests by email to records custodians.

The email bill also contains a section meant to deal with multiple requests to view records from someone who never comes to review them, and requests for copies for which a person never pays for or retrieves.

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Tn.: Advocates keep a close eye as lawmakers mull public records bills

At a recent panel discussion hosted by the Tennessee Press Association, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell said they would be open to reviewing the hundreds of exemptions to the state’s public records law.

During the interaction, the leaders were pressed on the possibility of including a sunset provision on any new exemptions that are added to the public records law.

“I think that’s an idea that we need to probably pursue,” McNally said.

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TN: Bill easing open records requests passes House committee

A bill making it easier for Tennesseans to make public records requests passed an important hurdle Wednesday on its way to becoming law.

The House State Government Subcommittee recommended passage of a bill sponsored by Rep. Courtney Rogers, R-Goodlettsville, that would require records custodians that accept requests "in writing, to accept a handwritten request submitted in person or by mail, an email request, or a request on an electronic form submitted online."

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Metro Nashville must pay nearly $57K in attorneys fees in public records case

Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies ordered Metro Nashville to pay nearly $57K in attorneys fees to a public records requester, saying that the city “misinterpreted and ignored the ‘promptness’ requirement” in the Tennessee Public Records Act.

Davies found the city was willful in not complying with the law, a requirement for awarding attorneys fees in a public records lawsuit.

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Tennessee: State museum foundation transparency questioned

A week and a half ago, Attorney General Herb Slatery's office issued an opinion stating that none of the donors contributing funds towards the construction of the new Tennessee State Museum need to be made public, as the non-profit Tennessee State Museum Foundation is not itself a governmental entity. But as the Knoxville News Sentinel reports, not everyone is happy with this:

Gov. Bill Haslam — who is leading the campaign — says the names should be made public, but not the exact amount of each contribution.

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Editorial: High fees hold Tennessee public records access hostage

State law gives us a tool to hold our public servants accountable: the Tennessee Public Records Act.

Tennesseans have the fundamental right to explore what local and state governments are up to by simply requesting copies of an assortment of public records — everything from emails to investigative reports. 

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