The Tennessean et al. v. Metropolitan Govt of Nashville

February 27, 2015

Members of news media made records requests to the Nashville police department for records regarding an alleged rape on the Vanderbilt campus. The trial court granted access to certain categories of records, but the Court of Appeals later held that the records should be exempt. Before the state high court, the Reporters Committee and others submitted an amicus brief arguing that the records act mandates maximum access to government records, including information created by third parties and received by law enforcement agencies, and that the records are not exempt under rule used by the appellate court because it does not bar access to third party records that do not constitute work product. The brief also argued that the state's Victims Bill of Rights does not create an exemption to the act, and that allowing a broad law enforcement exception would have a devastating effect on the ability of the press to report on issues that are of utmost public concern.

Agency asks Tennessee newspaper to pay $35,000 for records on deaths and near deaths

Jeff Zalesin | Freedom of Information | News | June 11, 2013
June 11, 2013

A Tennessee newspaper investigating the state's Department of Children's Services may have to pay almost $35,000 for public records on deaths or near deaths of children who had contact with the child welfare agency, according to an estimate released by the DCS last week.

Tenn. ag-gag law might be unconstitutional, according to state atty. general

Rob Tricchinelli | Newsgathering | News | May 10, 2013
May 10, 2013

An animal cruelty bill passed in Tennessee is “constitutionally suspect” because its provisions on giving footage to law enforcement might be a prior restraint and unconstitutionally burden newsgathering, the state’s top lawyer said Thursday.

HB 1191, known as the “ag-gag” bill, requires any footage of animal cruelty to be surrendered to law enforcement within 48 hours of recording. Supporters of the bill, which was lobbied for by animal agriculture groups, say this surrender provision protects animals.

Redacted child fatality records will be made public, Tenn. judge rules

Lilly Chapa | Freedom of Information | News | January 25, 2013
January 25, 2013

A Tennessee judge ruled this week that the state Department of Children’s Services must make public child fatality records, allowing news organizations to investigate the high number of fatalities of children under the state’s care.

Tenn. court to review child death records withheld from public

Lilly Chapa | Freedom of Information | News | January 8, 2013
January 8, 2013

A Tennessee judge in the Davidson County Chancery Court heard arguments Tuesday over whether she should make public controversial child fatality records held by the state's Department of Children's Services.

Tennessee nonprofit found subject to public records laws

Lilly Chapa | Freedom of Information | News | December 12, 2012
December 12, 2012

A Tennessee court has ruled that a private nonprofit athletic association is the equivalent of a government agency, making it subject to public records laws.

The (Nashville) City Paper filed a petition in the Chancery Court for Davidson County seeking access to information from the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, which had previously denied the newspaper’s request, arguing that it is not a public government entity.


August 1, 2012

Summary of statute(s): An individual who is a party to either an in-person conversation or electronic communication, or who has the consent of one of the parties to the communication, can lawfully record it, unless the person is doing so for the purpose of committing a criminal or tortious act. A person also can lawfully record electronic communications that are readily accessible to the general public. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-601 (West 2012).


May 1, 2012


Memphis police investigated for deleting news footage

Andrea Papagianis | Newsgathering | Feature | January 31, 2012
January 31, 2012

The Memphis Police Department is investigating a complaint from a photojournalist who was briefly detained by police after he filmed an arrest and whose footage was deleted by the officers.

The National Press Photographers Association sent a letter to the Memphis police director today asking for an investigation into the complaint and offering help to further educate officers on the right of journalists to photograph arrests on public spaces.

Tenn. judge grants access to Russian adoption case

Kristen Rasmussen | Secret Courts | Feature | November 23, 2011
November 23, 2011

A Tennessee judge earlier this week granted a media coalition’s request to unseal court documents and proceedings in a case that prompted heightened scrutiny of international adoptions.

Torry Hansen failed to convince the court that a lawsuit seeking child support from her on behalf of the 9-year-old boy she adopted but then abruptly returned to his native Russia should be shielded entirely from public view. Some records related to the child’s adoption history will remain sealed to protect his privacy, however.