C. Administrative appeal.

Alabama has no provision for administrative appeal from denial of access to public records. A public official who is reluctant to produce the requested records can sometimes be persuaded, however, to seek a ruling from the Alabama Attorney General's office, pursuant to the following statute:

[The Attorney General] shall give his or her opinion in writing, or otherwise, on any question of law connected with the interests of the state or with the duties of any of the departments, when required by the Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor, Treasurer, Superintendent of Education, Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, Director of Department of Finance, Comptroller, State Health Officer, Public Service Commissioners, Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources, or the Director of the Department of Revenue or any other officer or department of the state when it is made, by law, his or her duty so to do, and he or she shall also give his or her opinion to the chairman of the judiciary committee of either house, when required, upon any matter under the consideration of the committee.

The Attorney General shall give his or her opinion, in writing or otherwise, as to any question of law connected with the duties of the following county or city officer when requested so to do in writing: judge of probate, clerk of the circuit court, sheriff, city and county boards of education, county commission, register of the circuit court, tax collector, tax assessor, mayor or chief executive officer of any incorporated municipality, city council or like governing body of any incorporated municipality, or any other officer required to collect, disburse, handle, or account for public funds.

Ala. Code § 36-15-1(a), (b) (2001).

A written opinion from the Alabama Attorney General is advisory, not binding, but it "shall protect such officer and the members of such board, local governing body or agency to whom it is directed or for whom the same is secured from liability to either the state, county or other municipal subdivisions of the state because of any official act or acts heretofore or hereafter performed as directed or advised in such opinion." Ala. Code § 36-15-19 (1991); Curry v. Woodstock Slag Corp., 242 Ala. 379, 6 So. 2d 479 (1942). As the number and results of the Attorney General opinions cited in this outline attest, the Alabama Attorney General's office has, throughout the course of several changes in administrations, consistently upheld the spirit, the letter, and the rationale of Alabama's Public Records Law.