The Tennessee Public Records Act, T.C.A. 10-7-503 (a), was designed so that citizens of the state
of Tennessee would have a viable means to investigate the actions of out state agencies. Most people
have heard of the Freedom of Information act, well, this act was constructed so that the people of a state
could also access state agencies which are not affected under the Freedom of Information Act that deals
only with federal agencies. Under this law the average person has the means to be his own investigator
into the inner workings of state agencies. However, this does not apply to private businesses or private
organizations. The key thing to remember here is that they must be state run agencies. This means that
any citizen can find out anything on the way the Tennessee Department of Correction, District Attorneys'
Office or even the Tennessee Board of Paroles work.... any agency.
Sound too good to be true? Well , there are some exceptions as to what you are allowed to inspect.
The amount of information that you are allowed to see is limited by the amount of information stored on
the subject you request. If the subject you want has to deal with an individual's medical or mental health,
concerns and ongoing criminal investigation or by the fact that a claim is made by the state agency that
the information contained therein is of such a delicate nature that it would compromise the security of the
agency or of that of the state it's self. Classified documents are not open to public inspection. For
example, the inner workings of the Oak Ridge Nuclear Facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, would not be
allowed for public inspection. Nor would the blueprints of a correctional institution. Basically, it's pretty
easy to figure out what you can or cannot have.
Don't let the fact that there are some things that you can not have discourage you. There is still hope
yet. If any agency decides that they don't want you to have it's sensitive material, and let's face it, that's
what we're after, they are required to notify you in writing of any reason why they think you shouldn't
have the material you have requested from them. Most agencies will have a second recourse of action
that you are allowed to take if your request is initially turned down. Like an appeals process for that
particular agency. Most are fairly simple in this respect, so don't give up! There is no such thing as "no"
when it comes this. Just different ways of getting what you need. You're going to have to be sure that
you follow any appeals or avenues of relief that are available to you have been exhausted before you are
allowed to go any further. This will be a necessity if you are still not successful in obtaining the
information that you desire and wish to pursue the matter any further.
The fact that the state is not willing to oblige your request does not mean that you are out of luck yet.
That is exactly what they want you to think. The truth is that you have the right to bring your request to
the chancery court so that the court many decide for it's self whether or not you request should be
denied. Someone from outside the state agency is going to be a lot more open to the idea that you have
a right to the information you seek. The judge is not going to be as one sided as the state would like for
them to be. The only questions that he is really going to be concerned with is if you used every option
available to you before you brought the matter to his attention. Don't give him a reason to throw your
request out without being heard due to a technicality. You have to remember that these agencies have
rights, too. The better you make it look on your self, and the more unreasonable you make them look,
the easier the judge will be to deal with. More often that not, you will be allowed to have the information
that you seek if you follow these simple instructions.
If there is information that you would like to request from a state agency, then try to contact them.
Or, if you would like, the UNFORGIVEN offers you a second course of action. We can customize a
request for you that should cover everything you will need. That means we will give you our undivided
attention in your particular matter and do everything in our power to see that your request is met. If you
would like to know more about this request, please e-mail us and we will further inform you of this
The Lost Boy