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Perrusquia v. The City of Memphis

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  1. Freedom of Information

Case Number: CH-23-0772

Court: Chancery Court of Shelby County, Tennessee, for the Thirtieth Judicial District at Memphis

Client: Marc Perrusquia

Petition For Access to Public Records Filed: June 7, 2023

Background: In December 2020, journalist Marc Perrusquia submitted a public records request to the city of Memphis for records regarding the Memphis Police Department’s assessment of its Performance Enhancement Program, a non-disciplinary program intended to improve the performance of police officers.

Over the next two and a half years, the city contacted Perrusquia more than 40 times to extend the time reasonably necessary to fulfill his public records request. The extensions continued even after Paul McAdoo, the Reporters Committee’s Local Legal Initiative attorney for Tennessee, submitted a letter to the city attorney on behalf of Perrusquia in December 2022 asking that the city stop delaying its response to the request and provide the journalist with the records no later than January 2023. To date, the city has not acknowledged or responded to that letter.

Perrusquia, represented by McAdoo, is now suing the city of Memphis for access to the records, arguing that the Performance Enhancement Program’s audits and evaluations are public records under the Tennessee Public Records Act.

Quote: “The public has a right under Tennessee’s public records law to prompt access to public records, and any delay must be limited to the time reasonably necessary to produce the requested records,” McAdoo told the Institute for Public Service Reporting at the University of Memphis. “It should not take the City of Memphis more than two and a half years to produce any public records. Such an extensive delay is contrary to the Tennessee Public Records Act.”

Related: McAdoo has previously filed several public records lawsuits on behalf of Perrusquia, including three concerning access to law enforcement records.


2023-06-07: Petition for access to public records and to obtain judicial review of denial of access

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