The Act has been construed as precluding courts from exempting records from public inspection. Memphis Publishing Co. v. Holt, 710 S.W.2d 513, 517 (Tenn. 1986). Arguably, however, the 1991 amendment to the statute now allows exemptions based upon common law. In Schneider v. City of Jackson, 226 S.W.3d 332 (Tenn. 2007), however, the Supreme Court refused to recognize a “law enforcement privilege” as a part of Tennessee’s common law. Therefore, such records of local police departments are not exempt.
Courts have adopted federal statutes requiring certain records to be kept confidential. In Seaton v. Johnson, 20 TAM 8-20 (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 27, 1995), the court, adopting the holding in Southern Pacific Transportation Co. v. Yarnell, 863 P. 2d 271 (Ariz. App.1993), ruled that 23 U.S.C. § 409 protected disclosure of reports compiled for the purpose of identifying potential highway or railway accident sites.