Watauga Democrat: Unsealing a challenge to the public trust
From the Watauga Democrat (4/29/12): This week, the Watauga Democrat found it necessary to put practice into action.
After wrongly being denied access to a public record by the Watauga County Sheriff's Office, specifically after a court sealed a 911 recording, the Watauga Democrat quickly filed a motion requesting access to the recording. A hearing on this matter is scheduled for May 8.
Within North Carolina's public records law is the emphasis that records and information compiled by government agencies are the property of the people.
This emphasis is vital if government is to truly serve the people.
Sometimes, a government agency will contend that the release of information could jeopardize a criminal investigation. Yet, the law states that such a contention “shall not affect its status as a public record.”
This is not to say that public records which would result in reckless access and hamper a just and right outcome to a crime are strictly available under public records law.