1. Status of requestor.

By the express terms of the Alabama Public Records Law, the right to inspect and take a copy of public writings of the State of Alabama inures to the benefit of every citizen. See Scott v. Culpepper, 220 Ala. 393, 393-94, 125 So. 643, 644 (1930) (The law "gives every citizen a right to inspect and take a copy" of public records.). Although the statute does not contain a definition of the term "citizen," that term probably indicates that the statute was intended to apply to United States citizens, since the Alabama Legislature could easily have limited the statute to citizens of Alabama by express language but did not do so. However, there is no reported case in Alabama in which a citizen of another state has sought to invoke the provisions of the statute. Because the statute expressly provides for right of access of "citizens," by standard rules of statutory construction foreign nationals would not have a right of access under the statute.

In Person v. State Dep't of Forensic Sciences, 721 So. 2d 203 (Ala. Civ. App. 1998), the Court of Civil Appeals held that although § 36-12-40 gives every citizen the right to inspect and to copy public records, it does not require that state agencies make copies of the records and mail them to prisoners who have asked to review them. Furthermore, the Court held, the Department of Forensic Sciences can require an inmate to give reasonable grounds for wanting to inspect public records relating to protocols for drug testing to ensure that the inmate wants the information for a legitimate or proper purpose. Id. at 205.

The "news media" have a right of access under Alabama's Public Records Law, whether the requester is a company or corporation or other business form. See Stone v. Consolidated Publishing Co., 404 So. 2d 678, 681 (Ala. 1981) (by implication). A professional organization has standing to bring suit for access to public records under the law, Birmingham Education Ass'n v. Birmingham City Bd. of Educ., CV 4-637 at 2-3 (Cir. Ct. of Jefferson County, Ala., Nov. 15, 1995) ("BEA, and any other citizen, is a proper plaintiff with standing to seek [records under Alabama's Public Records Law]."), as does a requester who seeks access to public records for "a commercial purpose," Walsh v. Barnes, 541 So. 2d 33, 35 (Ala. Civ. App. 1989) (Alabama's Public Records Law "makes no distinction between disclosure for profit or otherwise.").