The Alabama Open Records Law provides access to “public writings,” without much elaboration. But recent statutes, case law and attorney general opinions have recognized that the term includes electronic records (and presumably electronic messages). Ala. Code § 22-9A-21(f) (1997).
A 2007 court decision denied a request for about 350,000 county employee e-mail messages, citing that the defendants — only county commissioners — were not the legal custodians of many of the messages. Accordingly, the court said, they did not have “legal authority or responsibility” to release them; also, screening the messages to determine if they were subject to disclosure under the open records law was deemed an “enormous task” that created “unreasonable and undue interference” with the work the government should be doing. George v. Glasscock, No. CV-07-40 (Cir. Ct. of Morgan County, Ala., June 12, 2007).