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N.C. Supreme Court rules court database not subject to public records law

August 21, 2015

The N.C. Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeals Friday in a public records case brought by LexisNexis against the Administrative Office of the Courts. LexisNexis was seeking access to the Automated Criminal Infractions System (ACIS) database. The Supreme Court found that a separate statute governs access to court system records so the Public Records Law does not apply, and the separate statute allows the court system to enter into exclusive contracts for access. 

Law enforcement personnel privacy exemption passes

August 14, 2015

The General Assembly has passed its seventh new exemption to the Public Records Law this session, this time creating limitations about what information can be released about law enforcement personnel. The new limitations exempt records of first responders' cellphones and law enforcement officers' addresses, and other "identifying information." 

Hundred year cap on exemptions passes

August 4, 2015

The General Assembly passed a bill that would create a 100-year time limit on exemptions to the Public Records Law, regardless of the reason. The Department of Cultural Resources requested the change to reopen some 19th and 20th century records in the State Archives. Another provision of the bill will also settle who owns the rights to visual images of shipwrecks. 

Judge: Hildebran violated Open Meetings Law, but town's decision stands

July 24, 2015

Community activists filed a lawsuit earlier this year against Hildebran alleging the Burke County town violated several laws, including the open meetings law, in deciding to tear down an old school. Following a trial, Superior Court Judge Joe Crosswhite ruled the town council violated the Open Meetings Law but the violation did not effect the board's decision to demolish the school. 

Coalition of media, public interest groups sue McCrory Administration

July 23, 2015

A coalition of media outlets and public policy groups filed a public records lawsuit this week against Gov. Pat McCrory and eight of his cabinet secretaries over the executive branch's response to public records requests. The allegations include excessive "service charge" fees, delays of more than a year, and providing incomplete records.   

Court of Appeals clarifies when closed session minutes for personnel discussions are public

July 21, 2015

The Court of Appeals Tuesday provided significant guidance for trial courts reviewing disputes over access to closed session minutes. The court also clarified that when  closed sessions are held for personnel that any policy or political discussions will be public. The decision came in a case brought by the Times-News of Burlington against the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education. 

Budget bill would expand terrorism exemption 

July 6, 2015

The Senate's amendments to the House's budget bill include a significant expansion of the exemption to the public records law that is often referred to as the "terrorism exemption." 

UNC Chapel Hill Foundation files IRS disclosure for first time in 8 years

May 15, 2015

The UNC Chapel Hill Foundation, which manages $352 million of the university's funds, recently filed a Form 990 with the IRS for 2013-14 for the first time since 2007. The foundation had claimed exemption from the IRS' reporting requirements as a government affiliated entity. Chancellor Folt announced last fall that the foundation would return to the practice of filing disclosures. 

Charlotte Observer, national media outlets seek court records in David Petraeus case

April 28, 2015

Retired General David Petraeus pleaded guilty in Charlotte last week to leaking classified materials to his mistress and biographer. The sentencing report, which is typically public, was sealed in Petraeus' case. The Charlotte Observer, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, New York Times,  NPR, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal joined together to request the documents be made public. 

Police video exemption passes House

April 23, 2015

A bill that creates a broad, new exemption for videos collected by police body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras passed the N.C. House today 115-2. The revised bill gives discretion to police departments on withholding video from dashboard cameras and body cameras. It also makes clear the videos are not subject to personnel privacy rules.