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F. Segregability requirements

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  • Alabama

    The Alabama Public Records Law does not expressly provide for access to segregable portions of records that contain exempt material, but numerous statutes provide for partial exclusion, see, e.g., Ala. Code § 9-16-83(b)(16) (2001) (applications for surface coal mining and reclamation permits open except for information pertaining to the coal seam itself); Ala. R. Civ. P. 5.1 (redaction of personal identifiers in court filings), and redaction has been permitted, sanctioned, or ordered in the following cases and attorney general opinions:

    1. Arrest reports: Complainant names and witness names may be blocked out or otherwise precluded from access. Birmingham News Co. v. Deutcsh, CV 85-504-132 JDC (Cir. Ct. of Jefferson County, Ala., Equity Div., Aug. 19, 1986).

    2. Complaint reports: Specific information, or entire reports, may be withheld if "the divulging of such information or complaint reports would actually interfere with the conduct of the efforts of respondents in enforcing the criminal law or would actually hamper law enforcement." Birmingham News Co. v. Watkins, CV No. 38389 at 4 (Cir. Ct. of Jefferson County, Ala., Oct. 30, 1974) (applying First Amendment newsgathering right, not Public Records Law); see also Washington County Publications v. Wheat, No. CV-99-94 (Cir. Ct. of Washington County, Ala., May 1, 2000) (incident/offense reports are available for public inspection subject to the right of the sheriff to withhold or redact certain information on a case-by-case basis depending on the nature of the case, the status of the investigation, whether the victim would be subject to threats or intimidation, or when public disclosure would hinder the investigation of a case).

    3. National Fire Incident Reporting System forms: Home addresses, telephone numbers and the material status of persons involved in an incident may be withheld from public inspection. Op. Att'y Gen. Ala. No. 2006-134, 2006 Ala. AG LEXIS 97 (Aug. 17, 2006).

    4. Personnel records: Psychological profiles in inmate personnel file, 200 Op. Att'y Gen. Ala. 25 (Aug. 20, 1985); employees' home addresses, 212 Op. Att'y Gen. Ala. 26 (Aug. 1, 1988); confidential material in a resume the release of which would cause undue harm or embarrassment, 222 Op. Att'y Gen. Ala. 48 (Mar. 20, 1991); addresses or telephone numbers received under a promise of confidentiality, 227 Op. Att'y Gen. Ala. 42 (June 3, 1992); marital status, medical history, confidential recommendations of employment, and drug or alcohol testing, Op. Att'y Gen. Ala. No. 96-00003, 1995 Ala. AG LEXIS 59 (Oct. 4, 1995).

    5. Prison Incident Reports: The Department of Corrections was permitted to redact information that would subject a person to a specific threat or harm or if the release of the information would jeopardize a pending criminal investigation or violate any state or federal law.  Allen v. Barksdale, 32 So. 3d 1264 (Ala. 2009).

    6. State license tag records: Information regarding state license tags for undercover vehicles to be blocked out. Birmingham News Co. v. Hobbie, 12 Media L. Rep. (BNA) 1687, 1688 (Cir. Ct. of Montgomery County, Ala., Dec. 20, 1985).

    7. Transcript of pretrial proceedings: Materials involving ongoing grand jury proceedings are to be kept under seal, by redaction of references to these materials from the transcript of pretrial proceedings. Ex parte Birmingham News Co., 624 So. 2d 1117, 1127-29 (Ala. Crim. App. 1993) (applying common law and First Amendment right of access to criminal court records).

    Alabama courts have also refused to order redacted disclosure in at least two cases. Birmingham News Co. v. Hornsby, CV 94-103-TH (Cir. Ct. of Montgomery County, Ala., Mar. 18, 1994) (trial court refuses to order redaction and disclosure of Alabama Human Resources Final Decision in child abuse/neglect case because "[t]he issues . . . addressed in the [Final Decision] are so intertwined with information that is made confidential by state statute and administrative rule that it is impossible to determine that any portion of the disputed documents could be redacted so as to be allowed to be open to public inspection and still retain any meaning"); Birmingham News Co. v. Muse [Muse II, 2d appeal], 669 So. 2d 138, 139 (Ala. 1995) (redaction and disclosure of Auburn University's Response to NCAA Letter of Inquiry denied because "[i]f the promises [of confidentiality] are to be honored, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to edit out th[e] material [received under promise of confidentiality] and release a response that made sense") (quoting and adopting trial court's findings).

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  • Georgia

    The Act’s exemptions must be interpreted narrowly so as to exclude from disclosure only that portion of a public record to which an exclusion is directly applicable. O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72(b). The Act expressly provides that “[i]t shall be the duty of the agency having custody of a record to provide all other portions of a record for public inspection or copying.” Id. An agency may, in its discretion, provide copies of a record in lieu of providing access to the record when portions of the record contain confidential information that must be redacted. O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71(b)(1)(B).

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  • Kansas

    “If a public record contains material which is not subject to disclosure pursuant to this act, the public agency shall separate or delete such material and make available to the requester that material in the public record which is subject to disclosure pursuant to this act. If a public record is not subject to disclosure because it pertains to an identifiable individual, the public agency shall delete the identifying portions of the record and make available to the requester any remaining portions which are subject to disclosure pursuant to this act, unless the request is for a record pertaining to a specific individual or to such a limited group of individuals that the individuals' identities are reasonably ascertainable, the public agency shall not be required to disclose those portions of the record which pertain to such individual or individuals.”

    K.S.A. 45-221(d).

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  • New Mexico

    There are no segregability requirements.

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  • Pennsylvania

    Where a document contains information that is subject to access as well as information that is not subject to access, but able to be redacted, the agency must provide access to the document while redacting or omitting the information not subject to access.  65 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 67.706; see also Times Publ’g Co., Inc. v. Michel, 633 A.2d 1233, 1239 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 1993), pet. denied, 645 A.2d 1321 (Pa. 1994) (explaining under the old Act that information in a document that is not protected from disclosure is still accessible even if the same document also contains protected information).

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  • Texas

    A governmental body cannot completely withhold public records that contain some exempt information. In Industrial Foundation, for example, the Texas Supreme Court held that only the specific information found to be private and confidential could be withheld. Indus. Found.., 540 S.W.2d  at 686 (Tex. 1976) (“If the nature of a particular claim is held to be confidential, only that information need be withheld from disclosure. As we have already stated, there is nothing intimate or embarrassing about the fact, in and of itself, that an individual has filed a claim for benefits. The claimant's name may therefore normally be disclosed, as may other information in the claimant's file which does not itself reveal private facts, even though information concerning the nature of his injury is withheld.”).​

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  • Wisconsin

    Custodians are required to segregate producible portions of records from portions that are exempt from disclosure. Wis. Stat. § 19.36(6). This statute mandates redaction whenever possible and "does not give a custodian . . . the option of separating the information or simply denying the open records request." Osborn v. Bd. of Regents, 2002 WI 83, ¶ 45, 254 Wis. 2d 266, 302, 647 N.W.2d 158, 175 (university is not relieved of its duty to redact under section 19.36(6) simply because it is burdensome to do so).

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