However, due to the language of the law not specifying where one must be a citizen from, Alabama can deny a request because they are not an Alabama citizen. State open records laws do not give the state Attorney General a specific role to play within the enforcement of the measure. The mission of Alabama State Records is to grant every person the right to detect, obtain, preview and examine state public records in accordance with Alabama’s Public Records Law. | While there are no branches of government or government offices that are specified as being exempt, records of public schools, universities or colleges, and libraries are. The information found in this guide reflects the statutes as of the date of this publication. [9], A 2007 study, Graded state responsiveness to FOI requests, conducted by BGA and the NFOIC, gave Alabama 0 points out of a possible 100, a letter grade of "F" and a ranking of 49 out of the 50 states. [1] It was passed in the House on February 12, 2009 and sent to the Senate as Senate Bill 207, where it was assigned to the Constitutions and Election Committee. This Tuesday afternoon, Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) plans to do something … By Catherine Patterson | February 20, 2020 at 8:39 PM CST - Updated February 21 at 11:00 PM . The first application only requires that a private corporation function as a public body but recommends that a court consider the origin of the corporation, how it presented itself and the degree of control that a public body has over the corporation as additional factors that aid in their determination. This makes civil action the only other recourse for someone wishing to challenge the state’s ruling, which can be expensive and time consuming. Yes, they need to be able to cite why your request was denied, or why a portion was redacted or withheld. The Alabama Public Records Law does not have an established response time they must comply with, only saying they will process a request when appropriate fees have been received. Alabama Constitution of 1901 Title 1. Circuit Courts | Alabama Public Records Law, like most states’ laws, can be vague and at times difficult to pin down. The Alabama Public Records Law is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to the records of government bodies at all levels, and peoples conduct in Alabama. Animals Title 4. The Alabama open records law contains only two general exemptions from the right of citizens to inspect and copy public writings: library circulation records and records expressly made confidential by statute. This Ballotpedia article is in need of updates. In Holcombe v. State ex rel. Online orders are handled by a 3rd party provider, VitalChek. Judicial Selection | Chandler the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that records may not be requested for mere "idle curiosity." spotteredu (Auburn University Athletic Department), Jason Koebler sent this request to the Auburn University Athletic Department of Alabama, 2020 Vigilant Data Sharing Information - Automated License Plate Reader (Foley Police Department), Dave Maass sent this request to the Foley Police Department of Foley, AL, Alec Robinson sent this request to the Auburn University Athletic Department of Alabama, Anti-Abortion Agencies Requests (Department of Public Health), Shafaq Patel (@shafaqpatel) sent this request to the Department of Public Health of Alabama, Specialty "Choose Life" License Plates (Department of Revenue), Mackenzie Farkus sent this request to the Department of Revenue of Alabama, Files relating to the shooting of Emantic "EJ" Bradford, Jr. (Office of the Attorney General - Alabama), Liam Knox sent this request to the Office of the Attorney General of Alabama, Josh Doggrell and Wayne Brown – Anniston PD, Brendan O'Connor sent this request to the City Clerk of Anniston, AL, Records request from BuzzFeed News: Incident reports for crimes of aggravated assault, Peter Aldhous sent this request to the Mobile Police Department of Mobile, AL, Emergency Management Assistance Compact for Standing Rock NoDAPL Protests (Morgan County Sheriff's Office), Curtis Waltman sent this request to the Morgan County Sheriff's Office of Morgan County, AL, 2018 Vigilant Data Sharing Information (Foley Police Department). State constitution, Courts in Alabama | This statute states “public records” shall include all written, typed or printed books, papers, letters, documents and maps made or received in pursuance of law by the public officers of the state, counties, municipalities and other subdivisions of … Voting in Alabama | Public Records Directory; General Resources. Agriculture Title 3. There will be a charge of $1.00 per page for public records, as well as a charge of $1.50 for the annexation of the state seal. It is unclear whether "citizen" indicates citizens of the state of Alabama or U.S. citizens. For these reasons, requesting open records in Alabama can be a very difficult task, making it all the more important a requester knows APRL well before engaging in the process. Supreme Court | Have a good story on Utah public records laws? It was assigned to the Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics and Elections Committees in the Senate. The National Association of Counties published this report to serve as a reference tool for county officials . [10], A 2002 study, Freedom of Information in the USA, conducted by IRE and BGA, ranked Alabama's law as the worst in the country, giving it a letter grade of "F."[11], The Alabama law does not have a clear declaration of philosophical intention. Alabama Public Records Law. The following organizations offer resources for those seeking public records in Alabama. Exemptions in Alabama can also be tricky to navigate. Vital records and statistics for Alabama are handled by the Center for Health Statistics. BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - When it comes to transparency, one Alabama senator says our state is as murky as it gets. Depending on what you’re interested in, these exemptions can make the Alabama Public Records Law (APRL) challenging to deal with, particularly when requesting certain kinds of information. Alabama also has a fairly open ended exemption relating to documents concerning public safety and security. The definition of public body presumably includes public universities within the state. There are no appeals for a Public Records decision in the State of Alabama. There is no language in the bill which states how long the state has to respond to a request. Public records are the only tools the public — not just the media or nosy environmentalists — have to see what our government is up to. While no governmental branches or bodies are explicitly exempted in the code, Alabama does reserve the right to classify certain records as confidential or “nonpublic” as well as a list of exemptions. Generally, searchers can determine where the records they wish to view are located through internet searches. Provided however, registration and circulation records and information concerning the use of the public, public school or college and university libraries of this state shall be exempted from this section. They may be requested by anyone who can provide enough information to search for the record and submit payment of the proper fee. [2], House Bill 295 would have required the public disclosure of the names of public officials, spouses of public officials or candidates who have a contract with or are employed by the state, county or a municipality. In practice, this isn’t always the case. The Attorney General’s office in Alabama has historically stated the following opinion regarding fees; “If possible, a public agency should provide free copies of public records. The Public Records Law, however, does not require the state to research, inspect, identify, copy, assemble, or make arrangements to deliver the documents to the citizen. By Alabama law, marriage certificates are unrestricted. Birth certificates are private records for 125 years after the birth date and require proper identification and legal guardianship, repres… Every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute. Declared legal intentions across the U.S. Pursuant to the statute, every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of the state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute. There is no language in the bill which states how long the state has to respond to a request. The official Alabama code does not impose any limitations on the use of records. The official Alabama code indicates that no purpose must be stated in order to request open records. Public Records Law Al. Immigration | Court of Civil Appeals | In Alabama it is a criminal offense to use any device to record communications whether it’s wire, oral or electronic without the consent of … Any citizen or media source that wishes to self-enforce this law must do so in court by filing a civil action. Ballot access for candidates | Affirmed: In the practice of the appellate courts, the decree or order is declared valid and will stand as rendered in the lower court. Although there is precedence for filing suit to prove that a long enough wait time is a denial-of-request, wait times for public records can be lengthy in Alabama. [8], A 2008 study, the BGA - Alper Integrity Index, conducted by the Better Government Association and sponsored by Alper Services, ranked Alabama #48 in the nation with an overall percentage of 34.90% in regards to transparency. Years before 1923, there were no laws in Alabama State regarding access to public records. Federal courts | Environment | "[16], Here is a list of lawsuits in Alabama (cases are listed alphabetically; to order them by year, please click the icon to the right of the "year" heading). Court of Criminal Appeals | It might difficult to find records in Alabama if you don’t know where to find authentic information about public records, marriage records, birth records and divorce records and so on. Alabama grants every "citizen" the right to access open records. BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - If you wanted to know what the City of Birmingham spends on the gunshot detection system ShotSpotter in … The law was first enacted in 1923. Alabama has no language in its public records code that specifies how long they have to comply with your request. This is punishable with a one year jail sentence, however the Attorney General does not have power to enforce the Public Records Law himself. "[12], Exemptions to the definition of public records include the records of library materials checked out by library patrons (except in the case of minors, whose parents may request records) and records relating to the security of individuals and infrastructure.[12]. The format of this publication is intended to outline the key aspects of public records laws and facilitate comparisons between each state. 2005). The Criminal Records Identification Unit also includes the Criminal History Section and the Automated Fingerprint Identification Services (AFIS) Section. Alabama Public Records Law & Social Media. [15], The purpose of the Alabama Open Meetings Act reads as follows: "It is the policy of this state that the deliberative process of governmental bodies shall be open to the public during meetings" and "[e]xcept for executive sessions permitted in Section 36-25A-7(a) or as otherwise expressly provided by other federal or state statutes, all meetings of a governmental body shall be open to the public and no meetings of a governmental body may be held without providing notice. Financial regulation | Court Decisions and information, Constitution, Legislation, Rules of Practice and Procedure, Administrative Law Sources, Municipal Codes, legal publications, and forms. Terms Used In Alabama Code 16-22-14. Alabama Public Records. District Courts | Search by Keyword or Citation; Search by Keyword or Citation . Campaign finance requirements, Who represents me? Local registrars and deputy registrars of vital statistics. [14], The fee structures are left to the discretion of the public records official within the department from whom the records are requested.[14]. The Alabama Public Records Law is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to the records of government bodies at all levels in Alabama. 2021 legislative session | In 1987 the legislature created the Alabama Local Government Records Commission in order to serve the same function for local government records. Alabama Public Records Law, like most states’ laws, can be vague and at times difficult to pin down. Furthermore, agencies don’t need to have a designated records custodian and no ombudsman exists here, so there are few places one can go to have an advocate for their request. Pursuant to the statute, every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of the state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute. Public pensions | School districts in Alabama | Alabama Public Records. There is no set appeals process for Public Records Law in Alabama. Local measures | For any certificate and the annexation of the state seal, there will be a charge of $5.00. (Source: Pixabay) By Shannon Isbell | July 9, 2019 at 4:02 PM CDT - Updated July 12 at 5:36 AM . Click here to contact our editorial staff, and click here to report an error. Cancel. File a complaint in the state circuit court in the county where the custodian of the records resides. While the law states that any citizen can file a request, it is not specified what one must be a citizen of, and in some cases this is used to deny a request as they can argue that one must be a citizen of Alabama. The law can be found at statutes 36.12.40-41 and 41.13.1 - 41.13.44 of the Code of Alabama. Senator Cam Ward from Alabaster is sponsoring a bill he says would provide more … Alabama recording law stipulates that it is a one party consent state. However, the broad definition of public body would presumably include state legislators. This presumption has been confirmed by a few court cases, including Birmingham News Co. v. Muse, which held that NCAA letters of inquiry submitted to the university are public, and The Advertiser Co. v. Lee, which held that NCAA self-reported violations were public. Bill aimed at open records law. Cost. List of who can make public record requests by state, Alabama Local Government Records Commission, Dunn v. Alabama State University Board of Trustees, Montgomery Advertiser v. Montgomery County Board of Education, Slawson & Furman v. Alabama Forestry Commission. Alabama Recording Law Summary: Ala. Code § 13A-11-30. [2] The Alabama legislature has passed bills banning the transfer of these funds among political action committees each year beginning in 2000, but the bills have never become law. grants citizens the right to inspect and copy public writings. See above for a more complete breakdown of exemptions. Part of the Alabama code on tampering with governmental records can be read to apply to the Public Records Law. Code §36-25A-1 et seq. grants citizens the right to inspect and copy public writings. (1) “registration and circulation records and information concerning the use of the public, public school or college and university libraries of this state”; and (2) “records concerning security plans, procedures, assessments, measures, or systems, and any other records relating to, or having an impact upon, the security or safety of persons, structures, facilities, or other infrastructures . The Alabama Public Records Law states that, "Every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute."[12]. New bill aims to overhaul current Alabama Open Records Law. The Alabama Open Meetings Act governs the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Write to us at info@MuckRock.com if you know of any and want to help us out! Search fees can only be charged if a substantial amount of an employee’s time is required in searching according to the Attorney General. The Alabama Public Records Law under Al. Click here to contact us for media inquiries, and please donate here to support our continued expansion. The Alabama code provides an expansive definition to "public officers," which includes not only elected or appointed officials but also "all persons whatsoever occupying positions in state institutions."[13]. This is especially so with no designated records custodian, and no language forcing them to expedite the process. MuckRock is a non-profit collaborative news site that gives you the tools to keep our government transparent and accountable. Largest cities | Alabama's Legal Information Network; Public Libraries; American Law Sources Online - Alabama. 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