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Are Mug Shots Public Records?

May 22, 2013

This may seem like a silly question. Mug shots (more formally, “booking photographs”) are everywhere, posted for free, searchable on line, sold in magazines at convenience stores, and regularly provided by law enforcement agencies. I never considered the question of … Read more

Who Can Request Public Records?

May 10, 2013

The United States Supreme Court recently upheld a provision in the state of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which allows only Virginia citizens to request  public records under the act. The case is McBurney v. Young.  Could a North Carolina local … Read more

Charging for Copies of Public Records

April 24, 2013

How much can a public agency charge for responding to public records requests?  The statute limits charges to a “minimal amount,” which is defined as the “actual cost of reproducing the public record or public information.” G.S. 132-1(b). A separate … Read more

Text Messages as Public Records

April 22, 2013

A city manager sends and receives the following text messages from a city resident on the manager’s personal smartphone: Citizen: u and wife want to meet us for dinner at 6 2moro? Manager: same place as last Fri? scallops were delish … Read more

Can I See What’s in My Personnel File?

March 27, 2013

North Carolina statutes protect most public employee information from public access. Public employees have the right to inspect almost all of the information in the files their employers maintain about them. The statutes do, however, carve a few types of … Read more

Are Security Videos Public Records?

November 16, 2012

Local governments, like many other organizations, place cameras in strategic locations to monitor activities that take place on their property or in public places. Security cameras are used for various purposes, including to apprehend and deter criminal behavior by employees … Read more

Ethics and Employee Email

August 1, 2012

[UPDATE: the final version of the NC ethics opinion discussed in this post can be found here: 2012 FEO 5.] Wally Whiner is in trouble once again.  Wally, an employee in Blue Devil City’s finance department, has been placed on … Read more

Dealing With Massive Public Records Requests

March 29, 2012

It’s happening more and more frequently, in large and small jurisdictions across North Carolina. It may come by email, personal delivery, or even in a good old -fashioned letter, signed, sealed and delivered by snail mail. It’s the massive public … Read more