A public records mediation office in Tennessee has ruled that statements made by juveniles who are neither victims nor being charged with an offense are part of the public record and must be released upon request, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.
After a request by the News Sentinel, officials in Knox County had originally kept two juveniles’ statements from the public record of an accidental shooting in December, believing they were exempt from Tennessee’s open records laws.
The paper filed suit to gain access to the statements, given by two boys who witnessed the accidental shooting death of Trent Lockett, 20, when they were 11 and 12-years-old. Hunter McRae, 12, and Stephen Lockett were in the care of Trent Lockett, who was killed when a firearm thought to be unloaded discharged during a game between Trent and his brother Stephen.
After the ruling on March 30 by Tennessee’s Office of Open Records Counsel, which mediates public records disputes, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office immediately released the records to the paper.