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Tennessee Court Grants Prisoner’s Investigative Record Request

The Chancery Court of Shelby County, Tennessee, for the Thirtieth Judicial District at Memphis, has granted a Tennessee prisoner, George Campbell, his request for the complete investigative record of his case covering the death of Kevin M. McConico from the Sheriff of Shelby County.

Campbell had initiated his request via a letter, rather than the prescribed request form in 2009, but the court found that the writer's intent was clear: "the court finds that Petitioner adequately identified the records that he seeks to inspect."

"TCA Section 10-70503 (a)(2)(A) provides that ‘all state, county, and municipal records shall, at all times during business open for personal inspection by any citizen of this state, and those in charge of the records shall not refuse such right of inspection to any citizen, unless otherwise provided by state law... the Court finds that the investigative records sought... are subject to this disclosure.’"

Petitioner than redrafted his original request letter, along with the appropriate "Request Form," and indicated that his attorney-in-fact, Dennis Wilson, would be reviewing the records. The Sheriff, through his legal representative, objected to the release of the records to a third party, and this court action followed to enforce Campbell's request.

In his decision, the Chancellor ruled that Campbell, a prisoner at the South Central Correctional Center in Clifton, Tennessee, was entitled to receive the records within 14 days after payment of costs, or a written response from the Sheriff if the requested records were not in his possession. "If a third party such as Mr. Wilson desires to copy the records, than a third party shall submit a 'Request Form' on his own behalf." Campbell's separate request for sanctions was denied. See: Campbell v. Wharton, CH-09-1289-2, In the Chancery Court of Shelby County, Tennessee for the Thirtieth Judicial District at Memphis, (2010).

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Related legal case

Campbell v. Wharton