TBA Law Blog


Posted by: Amelia Ferrell Knisely on Mar 17, 2016

The Tennessee Supreme Court today ruled that the Metro Nashville Police Department is not required by the Tennessee Public Records Act to release investigation records requested by a group of media organizations in a rape case involving four former Vanderbilt University football players. Media organizations filed a suit on Feb. 5, 2014 after Metro denied The Tennessean the records request, which included any text messages received or sent and any videos provided and/or prepared by any third-party sources. The State and Metro police argued that the requested records were exempt from disclosure under Rule 16(a)(2) of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, but the Davidson County Chancery Court ruled that only some of records were subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act. The Court of Appeals reversed the Chancery Court’s ruling. The Supreme Court ruled that the requested records were exempt from disclosure under Rule 16 and noted that Rule 16 is a state law exception to disclosure under the Public Records Act. The ruling in The Tennessean, et al. v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, et al., authored by Chief Justice Sharon G. Lee, protects the victim’s privacy while the criminal case and any collateral proceedings are pending. Read Justice Kirby’s separate concurring opinion, and Justice Wade’s dissenting opinion.