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TN Attorney General Says Public Records Act Requires Disclosure After Redaction of Exempt Portions of Records

In September, 1998, the Tennessee Attorney General issued its opinion regarding the disclosability of records after redaction of legally exempt parts of the document, without any balancing of interests before disclosure.

The AG first recognized that the Tennessee Court of Appeals, in City of Jackson v. Jackson Sun, Tenn. App. LEXIS 202 (1988) thought the legislature should create a statutory test for the balancing of the public’s right to know and the potential for harm to individuals by releasing sensitive information, under the state Public Records Act, Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-503 et seq. But since the legislature had devised no such test, the AG’s position was that none was required.

The AG also opined that even if part of a requested record is legally exempt from disclosure, the Public Records Act, Tenn. Ann. Code § 10-7-503 et seq requires disclosure of disclosable portions after exempt portions of the record are deleted pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-5-218 et seq. See: Office of the Attorney General of the State of Tennessee No. 88-191, Tenn. AG LEXIS 181 (1988).

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