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Tennessee Act Exempts Only Pending Investigative Materials From Public Disclosure

City of Memphis Police Department Director, John Holt, sought reversal of a Tennessee Court of Appeals affirmation of an order allowing closed investigative file access to the Memphis Publishing Company (media). The order was affirmed.

A shootout ensued in 1983 between Memphis police and occupants of Linberg Sanders residence, Initial confrontation left one policeman wounded and another was taken hostage. More than 24 hours later police charged the residence and killed seven occupants. The police hostage was found dead. Investigative results were released. However, a year later, the media requested access to the file. When the request was refused, they filed a motion to compel in the Shelby County Chancery Court. The court ordered disclosure pursuant to the Public Records Act (Act) because no pending or future action was expected. The judgment was upheld on appeal. Holt challenged the affirmation claiming that investigative files prepared by an agency were exempt under provisions of the Act.

The Supreme Court of Tennessee held that the provisions only exempted materials involved in or pending further actions. See: Memphis Publishing Company v. Holt, 710 S.W.2d 513 (Tenn. 1986).

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Related legal case

Memphis Publishing Company v. Holt