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Open Records Act
 Pirates- reaching our potential in relentless pursuit of excellence
Pirates- reaching our potential in relentless pursuit of excellence

 

50-18-70.

(a)    The General Assembly finds and declares that the strong public policy of this state is in favor of open government; that open government is essential to a free, open, and democratic society; and that public access to public records should be encouraged to foster confidence in government and so that the public can evaluate the expenditure of public funds and the efficient and proper functioning of its institutions. The General Assembly further finds and declares that there is a strong presumption that public records should be made available for public inspection without delay. This article shall be broadly construed to allow the inspection of governmental records. The exceptions set forth in this article, together with any other exception located elsewhere in the Code, shall be interpreted narrowly to exclude only those portions of records addressed by such exception.

(b)   As used in this article, the term:

(1)      'Agency shall have the same meaning as in Code Section 50-14-1 and shall additionally include any association, corporation, or other similar organization that has a membership or ownership body composed primarily of counties, municipal corporations, or school districts of this state, their officers, or any combination thereof and derives more than 33 1/3 percent of its general operating budget from payments from such political subdivisions.

(2)      'Public record' means all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, computer based or generated information, data, data fields, or similar material prepared and maintained or received by an agency or by a private person or entity in the performance of a service or function for or on behalf of an agency or when such documents have been transferred to a private person or entity by an agency for storage or future governmental use.

50-18-71.

(a) All public records shall be open for personal inspection and copying, except those which by order of a court of this state or by law are specifically exempted from disclosure. Records shall be maintained by agencies to the extent and in the manner required by Article 5 of this chapter. (b)(1)(A) Agencies shall produce for inspection all records responsive to a request within a reasonable amount of time not to exceed three business days of receipt of a request; provided, however, that nothing in this chapter shall require agencies to produce records in response to a request if such records did not exist at the time of the request. In those instances where some, but not all, records are available within three business days, an agency shall make available within that period those records that can be located and produced. In any instance where records are unavailable within three business days of receipt of the request, and responsive records exist, the agency shall, within such time period, provide the requester with a description of such records and a timeline for when the records will be available for inspection or copying and provide the responsive records or access thereto as soon as practicable.

(B) A request made pursuant to this article may be made to the custodian of a public record orally or in writing. An agency may, but shall not be obligated to, require that all written requests be made upon the responder's choice of one of the following: the agency's director, chairperson, or chief executive officer, however denominated; the senior official at any satellite office of an agency; a clerk specifically designated by an agency as the custodian of agency records; or a duly designated open records officer of an agency; provided, however, that the absence or unavailability of the designated agency officer or employee shall not be permitted to delay the agency's response. At the time of inspection, any person may make photographic copies or other electronic reproductions of the records using suitable portable devices brought to the place of inspection. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, an agency may, in its discretion, provide copies of a record in lieu of providing access to the record when portions of the record contain confidential information that must be redacted.

(2) Any agency that designates one or more open records officers upon whom requests for inspection or copying of records may be delivered shall make such designation in writing and shall immediately provide notice to any person upon request, orally or in writing, of those open records officers. If the agency has elected to designate an open records officer, the agency shall so notify the legal organ of the county in which the agency's principal offices reside and, if the agency has a website, shall also prominently display such designation on the agency's website. In the event an agency requires that requests be made upon the individuals identified in subparagraph (B) of paragraph (I) of this subsection, the three-day period for response to a written request shall not begin to run until the request is made in writing upon such individuals. An agency shall permit receipt of written requests by e-mail or facsimile transmission in addition to any other methods of transmission approved by the agency, provided such agency uses e-mail or facsimile in the normal course of its business. (3) The enforcement provisions of Code Sections 50-18-73 and 50-18-74 shall be available only to enforce compliance and punish noncompliance when a written request is made consistent with this subsection and shall not be available when such request is made orally.

(c)(1) An agency may impose a reasonable charge for the search, retrieval, redaction, and production or copying costs for the production of records pursuant to this article. An agency shall utilize the most economical means reasonably calculated to identify and produce responsive, non excluded documents. Where fees for certified copies or other copies or records are specifically authorized or otherwise prescribed by law, such specific fee shall apply when certified copies or other records to which a specific fee may apply are sought. In all other instances, the charge for the search, retrieval, or redaction of records shall not exceed the prorated hourly salary of the lowest paid full-time employee who, in the reasonable discretion of the custodian of the records, has the necessary skill and training to perform the request; provided, however, that no charge shall be made for the first quarter hour.

(2)      In addition to a charge for the search, retrieval, or redaction of records, an agency may charge a fee for the copying of records or data, not to exceed 10¢ per page for letter or legal size documents or, in the case of other documents, the actual cost of producing the copy. In the case of electronic records, the agency may charge the actual cost of the media on which the records or data are produced.

(3)      Whenever any person has requested to inspect or copy a public record and does not pay the cost for search, retrieval, redaction, or copying of such records when such charges have been lawfully estimated and agreed to pursuant to this article, and the agency has incurred the agreed-upon costs to make the records available, regardless of whether the requester inspects or accepts copies of the records, the agency shall be authorized to collect such charges in any manner authorized by law for the collection of taxes, fees, or assessments by such agency.

(d) In any instance in which an agency is required to or has decided to withhold all or part of a requested record, the agency shall notify the requester of the specific legal authority exempting the requested record or records from disclosure by Code section, subsection, and paragraph within a reasonable amount of time not to exceed three business days or in the event the search and retrieval of records is delayed pursuant to this paragraph or pursuant to subparagraph (b)(I)(A) of this Code section, then no later than three business days after the records have been retrieved. In any instance in which an agency will seek costs in excess of $25.00 for responding to a request, the agency shall notify the requester within a reasonable amount of time not to exceed three business days and inform the requester of the estimate of the costs, and the agency may defer search and retrieval of the records until the requester agrees to pay the estimated costs unless the requester has stated in his or her request a willingness to pay an amount that exceeds the search and retrieval costs. In any instance in which the estimated costs for production of the records exceeds $500.00, an agency may insist on prepayment of the costs prior to beginning search, retrieval, review, or production of the records. Whenever any person who has requested to inspect or copy a public record has not paid the cost for search, retrieval, redaction, or copying of such records when such charges have been lawfully incurred, an agency may require prepayment for compliance with all future requests for production of records from that person until the costs for the prior production of records have been paid or the dispute regarding payment resolved.

(e)    Requests by civil litigants for records that are sought as part of or for use in any ongoing civil or administrative litigation against an agency shall be made in writing and copied to counsel of record for that agency contemporaneously with their submission to that agency. The agency shall provide, at no cost, duplicate sets of all records produced in response to the request to counsel of record for that agency unless the counsel of record for that agency elects not to receive the records.

(f)    As provided in this subsection, an agency's use of electronic record-keeping systems must not erode the public's right of access to records under this article. Agencies shall produce electronic copies of or, if the requester prefers, printouts of electronic records or data from data base fields that the agency maintains using the computer programs that the agency has in its possession. An agency shall not refuse to produce such electronic records, data, or data fields on the grounds that exporting data or redaction of exempted information will require inputting range, search, filter, report parameters, or similar commands or instructions into an agency's computer system so long as such commands or instructions can be executed using existing computer programs that the agency uses in the ordinary course of business to access, support, or otherwise manage the records or data. A requester may request that electronic records, data, or data fields be produced in the format in which such data or electronic records are kept by the agency, or in a standard export format such as a flat file electronic American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) format, if the agency's existing computer programs support such an export format. In such instance, the data or electronic records shall be downloaded in such format onto suitable electronic media by the agency.

(g)      Requests to inspect or copy electronic messages, whether in the form of e-mail, text message, or other format, should contain information about the messages that is reasonably calculated to allow the recipient of the request to locate the messages sought, including, if known, the name, title, or office of the specific person or persons whose electronic messages are sought and, to the extent possible, the specific data bases to be searched for such messages.

(h)      In lieu of providing separate printouts or copies of records or data, an agency may provide access to records through a website accessible by the public. However, if an agency

receives a request for data fields, an agency shall not refuse to provide the responsive data on the grounds that the data is available in whole or in its constituent parts through a website if the requester seeks the data in the electronic format in which it is kept. Additionally, if an agency contracts with a private vendor to collect or maintain public records, the agency shall ensure that the arrangement does not limit public access to those records and that the vendor does not impede public record access and method of delivery as established by the agency or as otherwise provided for in this Code section.

(i)        Any computerized index of county real estate deed records shall be printed for purposes of public inspection no less than every 30 days, and any correction made on such index shall be made a part of the printout and shall reflect the time and date that such index was corrected.

(j)        No public officer or agency shall be required to prepare new reports, summaries, or compilations not in existence at the time of the request.

50-18-72.

(a) Public disclosure shall not be required for records that are:

 

(1)      Specifically required by federal statute or regulation to be kept confidential;

(2)      Medical or veterinary records and similar files, the disclosure of which would be an invasion of personal privacy;

(3)      Except as otherwise provided by law, records compiled for law enforcement or prosecution purposes to the extent that production of such records is reasonably likely to disclose the identity of a confidential source, disclose confidential investigative or prosecution material which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or persons, or disclose the existence of a confidential surveillance or investigation;

(4)      Records of law enforcement, prosecution, or regulatory agencies in any pending investigation or prosecution of criminal or unlawful activity, other than initial police arrest reports and initial incident reports; provided, however, that an investigation or prosecution shall no longer be deemed to be pending when all direct litigation involving such investigation and prosecution has become final or otherwise terminated; and provided, further, that this paragraph shall not apply to records in the possession of an agency that is the subject of the pending investigation or prosecution;

(5)      Individual Georgia Uniform Motor Vehicle Accident Reports, except upon the submission of a written statement of need by the requesting party to be provided to the custodian of records and to set forth the need for the report pursuant to this Code section; provided, however, that any person or entity whose name or identifying information is contained in a Georgia Uniform Motor Vehicle Accident Report shall be entitled, either personally or through a lawyer or other representative, to receive a copy of such report; and provided, further, that Georgia Uniform Motor Vehicle Accident Reports shall not be available in bulk for inspection or copying by any person absent a written statement showing the need for each such report pursuant to the requirements of this Code section. For the purposes of this subsection, the term 'need' means that the natural person or legal entity who is requesting in person or by representative to inspect or copy the Georgia Uniform Motor Vehicle Accident Report:

(A)           Has a personal, professional, or business connection with a party to the accident;

(B)           Owns or leases an interest in property allegedly or actually damaged in the accident;

(C)           Was allegedly or actually injured by the accident;

(D)             Was a witness to the accident;

(E)  Is the actual or alleged insurer of a party to the accident or of property actually or allegedly damaged by the accident;

(F)   Is a prosecutor or a publicly employed law enforcement officer;

(G) Is alleged to be liable to another party as a result of the accident;

(H) Is an attorney stating that he or she needs the requested reports as part of a criminal case, or an investigation of a potential claim involving contentions that a roadway, railroad crossing, or intersection is unsafe;

(I)    Is gathering information as a representative of a news media organization;

(J)    Is conducting research in the public interest for such purposes as accident prevention, prevention of injuries or damages in accidents, determination of fault in an accident or accidents, or other similar purposes; provided, however, that this subparagraph shall apply only to accident reports on accidents that occurred more than 30 days prior to the request and which shall have the name, street address, telephone number, and driver's license number redacted; or

(K) Is a governmental official, entity, or agency, or an authorized agent thereof, requesting reports for the purpose of carrying out governmental functions or legitimate governmental duties;

(6) Jury list data, including, but not limited to, persons' names, dates of birth, addresses, ages, race, gender, telephone numbers, social security numbers, and when it is available, the person's ethnicity, and other confidential identifying information that is collected and used by the Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia for creating, compiling, and maintaining state-wide master jury lists and county master jury lists for the purpose of establishing and maintaining county jury source lists pursuant to the provisions of Chapter /2 of Title 15; provided, however, that when ordered by the judge of a court having jurisdiction over a case in which a challenge to the array of the grand or trial jury has been filed, the Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia or the clerk of the county board of jury commissioners of any county shall provide data within the time limit established by the court for the limited purpose of such challenge. Neither the Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia nor the clerk of a county board of jury commissioners shall be liable for any use or misuse of such data;

(7)      Records consisting of confidential evaluations submitted to, or examinations prepared by, a governmental agency and prepared in connection with the appointment or hiring of a public officer or employee;

(8)      Records consisting of material obtained in investigations related to the suspension, firing, or investigation of complaints against public officers or employees until ten days after the same has been presented to the agency or an officer for action or the investigation is otherwise concluded or terminated, provided that this paragraph shall not be interpreted to make such investigatory records privileged;

(9)      Real estate appraisals, engineering or feasibility estimates, or other records made for or by the state or a local agency relative to the acquisition of real property until such time as the property has been acquired or the proposed transaction has been terminated or abandoned;

(10)  Pending, rejected, or deferred sealed bids or sealed proposals and detailed cost estimates related thereto until such time as the final award of the contract is made, the project is terminated or abandoned, or the agency in possession of the records takes a public vote regarding the sealed bid or scaled proposal, whichever comes first;

(11)  Records which identify persons applying for or under consideration for employment or appointment as executive head of an agency or of a unit of the University System of Georgia; provided, however, that at least 14 calendar days prior to the meeting at which final action or vote is to be taken on the position of executive head of an agency or five business days prior to the meeting at which final action or vote is to be taken on the position of president of a unit of the University System of Georgia, all documents concerning as many as three persons under consideration whom the agency has determined to be the best qualified for the position shall be subject to inspection and copying. Prior to the release of these documents, an agency may allow such a person to decline being considered further for the position rather than have documents pertaining to such person released. In that event, the agency shall release the documents of the next most qualified person under consideration who does not decline the position. If an agency has conducted its hiring or appointment process without conducting interviews or discussing or deliberating in executive session in a manner otherwise consistent with Chapter 14 of this title, it shall not be required to delay final action on the position. The agency shall not be required to release such records of other applicants or persons under consideration, except at the request of any such person. Upon request, the hiring agency shall furnish the number of applicants and the composition of the list by such factors as race and sex. The agency shall not be allowed to avoid the provisions of this paragraph by the employment of a private person or agency to assist with the search or application process;

(12)    Related to the provision of staff services to individual members of the General Assembly by the Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office, the Senate Research Office, or the House Budget and Research Office, provided that this exception shall not have any application to records related to the provision of staff services to any committee or subcommittee or to any records which are or have been previously publicly disclosed by or pursuant to the direction of an individual member of the General Assembly;

(13)           Records that are of historical research value which are given or sold to public archival institutions, public libraries, or libraries of a unit of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia when the owner or donor of such records wishes to place restrictions on access to the records. No restriction on access, however, may extend more than 75 years from the date of donation or sale. This exemption shall not apply to any records prepared in the course of the operation of state or local governments of the State of Georgia;

(14)           Records that contain information from the Department of Natural Resources inventory and register relating to the location and character of a historic property or of historic properties as those terms are defined in Code Sections 12-3-50.1 and 12-3-50.2 if the Department of Natural Resources through its Division of Historic Preservation determines that disclosure will create a substantial risk of harm, theft, or destruction to the property or properties or the area or place where the property or properties are located;

(15)           Records of farm water use by individual farms as determined by water-measuring devices installed pursuant to Code Section 12-5-31 or 12-5-105; provided, however, that compilations of such records for the 52 large watershed basins as identified by the eight-digit United States Geologic Survey hydrologic code or an aquifer that do not reveal farm water use by individual farms shall be subject to disclosure under this article;

(16)           Agricultural or food system records, data, or information that are considered by the Department of Agriculture to be a part of the critical infrastructure, provided that nothing in this paragraph shall prevent the release of such records, data, or information to another state or federal agency if the release of such records, data, or information is necessary to prevent or control disease or to protect public health, safety, or welfare. As used in this paragraph, the term 'critical infrastructure' shall have the same meaning as in 42 U.S.C. Section 5195e(e). Such records, data, or information shall be subject to disclosure only upon the order of a court of competent jurisdiction;

(17)           Records, data, or information collected, recorded, or otherwise obtained that is deemed confidential by the Department of Agriculture for the purposes of the national animal identification system, provided that nothing in this paragraph shall prevent the release of such records, data, or information to another state or federal agency if the release of such records, data, or information is necessary to prevent or control disease or to protect public health, safety, or welfare. As used in this paragraph, the term 'national animal identification program' means a national program intended to identify animals and track them as they come into contact with or commingle with animals other than herdmates from their premises of origin. Such records, data, or information shall be subject to disclosure only upon the order of a court of competent jurisdiction;

(18)           Records that contain site-specific information regarding the occurrence of rare species of plants or animals or the location of sensitive natural habitats on public or private property if the Department of Natural Resources determines that disclosure will create a substantial risk of harm, theft, or destruction to the species or habitats or the area or place where the species or habitats are located; provided, however, that the owner or owners of private property upon which rare species of plants or animals occur or upon which sensitive natural habitats are located shall be entitled to such information pursuant to this article;

(19)           Records that reveal the names, home addresses, telephone numbers, security codes, e­mail addresses, or any other data or information developed, collected, or received by counties or municipalities in connection with neighborhood watch or public safety notification programs or with the installation, servicing, maintaining, operating, selling, or leasing of burglar alarm systems, fire alarm systems, or other electronic security systems; provided, however, that initial police reports and initial incident reports shall remain subject to disclosure pursuant to paragraph (4) of this subsection;

(20)(A) Records that reveal an individual's social security number, mother's birth name, credit card information, debit card information, bank account information, account number, utility account number, password used to access his or her account, financial data or information, insurance or medical information in all records, unlisted telephone number if so designated in a public record, personal e-mail address or cellular telephone number, day and month of birth, and information regarding public utility, television, Internet, or telephone accounts held by private customers, provided that nonitemized bills showing amounts owed and amounts paid shall be available. Items exempted by this subparagraph shall be redacted prior to disclosure of any record requested pursuant to this article; provided, however, that such information shall not be redacted from such records if the person or entity requesting such records requests such information in a writing signed under oath by such person or a person legally authorized to represent such entity which states that such person or entity is gathering information as a representative of a news media organization for use in connection with news gathering and reporting; and provided, further, that such access shall be limited to social security numbers and day and month of birth; and provided, further, that the news media organization exception in this subparagraph shall not apply to paragraph (21) of this subsection.

(B) This paragraph shall have no application to:

(i)        The disclosure of information contained in the records or papers of any court or derived therefrom including without limitation records maintained pursuant to Article 9 of Title 11;

(ii)      The disclosure of information to a court, prosecutor, or publicly employed law enforcement officer, or authorized agent thereof, seeking records in an official capacity;

(iii)    The disclosure of information to a public employee of this state, its political subdivisions, or the United States who is obtaining such information for administrative purposes, in which case, subject to applicable laws of the United States, further access to such information shall continue to be subject to the provisions of this paragraph;

(iv)    The disclosure of information as authorized by the order of a court of competent jurisdiction upon good cause shown to have access to any or all of such information upon such conditions as may be set forth in such order;

(v)      The disclosure of information to the individual in respect of whom such information is maintained, with the authorization thereof, or to an authorized agent thereof; provided, however, that the agency maintaining such information shall require proper identification of such individual or such individual's agent, or proof of authorization, as determined by such agency;

(vi)    The disclosure of the day and month of birth and mother's birth name of a deceased individual;

(vii)  The disclosure by an agency of credit or payment information in connection with a request by a consumer reporting agency as that term is defined under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. Section 1681, et seq.);

(viii)    The disclosure by an agency of information in its records in connection with the agency's discharging or fulfilling of its duties and responsibilities, including, but not limited to, the collection of debts owed to the agency or individuals or entities whom the agency assists in the collection of debts owed to the individual or entity,

(ix)    The disclosure of information necessary to comply with legal or regulatory requirements or for legitimate law enforcement purposes; or

(x)      The disclosure of the date of birth within criminal records.

(C)  Records and information disseminated pursuant to this paragraph maybe used only by the authorized recipient and only for the authorized purpose. Any person who obtains records or information pursuant to the provisions of this paragraph and knowingly and willfully discloses, distributes, or sells such records or information to an unauthorized recipient or for an unauthorized purpose shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature and upon conviction thereof shall be punished as provided in Code Section 17-10-4. Any person injured thereby shall have a cause of action for invasion of privacy.

(D) In the event that the custodian of public records protected by this paragraph has good faith reason to believe that a pending request for such records has been made fraudulently, under false pretenses, or by means of false swearing, such custodian shall apply to the superior court of the county in which such records are maintained for a protective order limiting or prohibiting access to such records.

(E)  This paragraph shall supplement and shall not supplant, overrule, replace, or otherwise modify or supersede any provision of statute, regulation, or law of the federal government or of this state as now or hereafter amended or enacted requiring,restricting, or prohibiting access to the information identified in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph and shall constitute only a regulation of the methods of such access where not otherwise provided for, restricted, or prohibited;

(21) Records concerning public employees that reveal the public employee's home address, home telephone number, day and month of birth, social security number, insurance or medical information, mother's birth name, credit card information, debit card information, bank account information, account number, utility account number, password used to access his or her account, financial data or information other than compensation by a government agency, unlisted telephone number if so designated in a public record, and the identity of the public employee's immediate family members or dependents. This paragraph shall not apply to public records that do not specifically identify public employees or their jobs, titles, or offices. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term 'public employee' means any officer, employee, or former employee of:

(A)        The State of Georgia or its agencies, departments, or commissions;

(B)         Any county or municipality or its agencies, departments, or commissions;

(C)         Other political subdivisions of this state;

(D)        Teachers in public and charter schools and nonpublic schools; or

(E)         Early care and education programs administered through the Department of Early Care and Learning;

(22) Records of the Department of Early Care and Learning that contain the:

(A)             Names of children and day and month of each child's birth;

(B)              Names, addresses, telephone numbers, or e-mail addresses of parents, immediate family members, and emergency contact persons; or

(C)              Names or other identifying information of individuals who report violations to the department;

(23) Public records containing information that would disclose or might lead to the disclosure of any component in the process used to execute or adopt an electronic signature, if such disclosure would or might cause the electronic signature to cease being under the sole control of the person using it. For purposes of this paragraph, the term 'electronic signature' has the same meaning as that term is defined in Code Section 10-12-2;

(24) Records acquired by an agency for the purpose of establishing or implementing, or assisting in the establishment or implementation of, a carpooling or ridesharing program, including, but not limited to, the formation of carpools, vanpools, or bus pools, the provision of transit routes, rideshare research, and the development of other demand management strategies such as variable working hours and telecommuting;

(25)(A) Records the disclosure of which would compromise security against sabotage or criminal or terrorist acts and the nondisclosure of which is necessary for the protection of life, safety, or public property, which shall be limited to the following:

(i)     Security plans and vulnerability assessments for any public utility, technology infrastructure, building, facility, function, or activity in effect at the time of the request for disclosure or pertaining to a plan or assessment in effect at such time;

(ii)   Any plan for protection against terrorist or other attacks that depends for its effectiveness in whole or in part upon a lack of general public knowledge of its details;

(iii)Any document relating to the existence, nature, location, or function of security devices designed to protect against terrorist or other attacks that depend for their

effectiveness in whole or in part upon a lack of general public knowledge;

(iv) Any plan, blueprint, or other material which if made public could compromise security against sabotage, criminal, or terroristic acts; and

(v)   Records of any government sponsored programs concerning training relative to governmental security measures which would identify persons being trained or instructors or would reveal information described in divisions (i) through (iv) of this subparagraph.

(B)         In the event of litigation challenging nondisclosure pursuant to this paragraph by an agency of a document covered by this paragraph, the court may review the documents in question in camera and may condition, in writing, any disclosure upon such measures as the court may find to be necessary to protect against endangerment of life, safety, or public property.

(C)         As used in division (i) of subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, the term 'activity' means deployment or surveillance strategies, actions mandated by changes in the federal threat level, motorcades, contingency plans, proposed or alternative motorcade routes, executive and dignitary protection, planned responses to criminal or terrorist actions, after-action reports still in use, proposed or actual plans and responses to bioterrorism, and proposed or actual plans and responses to requesting and receiving the National Pharmacy Stockpile;

(26) Unless the request is made by the accused in a criminal case or by his or her attorney, public records of an emergency 9-1-1 system, as defined in paragraph (3) of Code Section 46-5-122, containing information which would reveal the name, address, or telephone number of a person placing a call to a public safety answering point. Such information may be redacted from such records if necessary to prevent the disclosure of the identity of a confidential source, to prevent disclosure of material which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or persons, or to prevent the disclosure of the existence of a confidential surveillance or investigation;

(27)  Records of athletic or recreational programs, available through the state or a political subdivision of the state, that include information identifying a child or children 12 years of age or under by name, address, telephone number, or emergency contact, unless such identifying information has been redacted;

(28)   Records of the State Road and Tollway Authority which would reveal the financial accounts or travel history of any individual who is a motorist upon any toll project;

(29)   Records maintained by public postsecondary educational institutions in this state and associated foundations of such institutions that contain personal information concerning donors or potential donors to such institutions or foundations; provided, however, that the name of any donor and the amount of donation made by such donor shall be subject to disclosure if such donor or any entity in which such donor has a substantial interest transacts business with the public postsecondary educational institution to which the donation is made within three years of the date of such donation. As used in this paragraph, the term 'transact business' means to sell or lease any personal property, real property, or services on behalf of oneself or on behalf of any third party as an agent, broker, dealer, or representative in an amount in excess of $10,000.00 in the aggregate in a calendar year; and the term 'substantial interest' means the direct or indirect ownership of more than 25 percent of the assets or stock of an entity;

(30)   Records of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority or of any other transit system that is connected to that system's TransCard, SmartCard, or successor or similar system which would reveal the financial records or travel history of any individual who is a purchaser of a TransCard, SmartCard, or successor or similar fare medium. Such financial records shall include, but not be limited to, social security number, home address, home telephone number, e-mail address, credit or debit card information, and bank account information but shall not include the user's name;

(31)   Building mapping information produced and maintained pursuant to Article 10 of Chapter 3 of Title 38;

(32)   Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (4) of this subsection, any physical evidence or investigatory materials that are evidence of an alleged violation of Part 2 of Article 3 of Chapter 12 of Title 16 and are in the possession, custody, or control of law enforcement, prosecution, or regulatory agencies;

(33)    Records that are expressly exempt from public inspection pursuant to Code Sections 47-1-14 and 47-7-127;

(34)    Any trade secrets obtained from a person or business entity that are required by law, regulation, bid, or request for proposal to be submitted to an agency. An entity submitting records containing trade secrets that wishes to keep such records confidential under this paragraph shall submit and attach to the records an affidavit affirmatively declaring that specific information in the records constitute trade secrets pursuant to Article 27 of Chapter 1 of Title 10. If such entity attaches such an affidavit, before producing such records in response to a request under this article, the agency shall notify the entity of its intention to produce such records as set forth in this paragraph. If the agency makes a determination that the specifically identified information does not in fact constitute a trade secret, it shall notify the entity submitting the affidavit of its intent to disclose the information within ten days unless prohibited from doing so by an appropriate court order. In the event the entity wishes to prevent disclosure of the requested records, the entity may file an action in superior court to obtain an order that the requested records are trade secrets exempt from disclosure. The entity filing such action shall serve the requestor with a copy of its court filing. If the agency makes a determination that the specifically identified information does constitute a trade secret, the agency shall withhold the records, and the requester may file an action in superior court to obtain an order that the requested records are not trade secrets and are subject to disclosure;

(35)     Data, records, or information of a proprietary nature, produced or collected by or for faculty or staff of state institutions of higher learning, or other governmental agencies, in the conduct of, or as a result of, study or research on commercial, scientific, technical, or scholarly issues, whether sponsored by the institution alone or in conjunction with a governmental body or private concern, where such data, records, or information has not been publicly released, published, copyrighted, or patented;

(36)     Any data, records, or information developed, collected, or received by or on behalf of faculty, staff, employees, or students of an institution of higher education or any public or private entity supporting or participating in the activities of an institution of higher education in the conduct of, or as a result of, study or research on medical, scientific, technical, scholarly, or artistic issues, whether sponsored by the institution alone or in conjunction with a governmental body or private entity, until such information is published, patented, otherwise publicly disseminated, or released to an agency whereupon the request must be made to the agency. This paragraph shall apply to, but shall not be limited to, information provided by participants in research, research notes and data, discoveries, research projects, methodologies, protocols, and creative works;

(37)     Any record that would not be subject to disclosure, or the disclosure of which would jeopardize the receipt of federal funds, under 20 U.S.C. Section 1232g or its implementing regulations;

(38)     Unless otherwise provided by law, records consisting of questions, scoring keys, and other materials constituting a test that derives value from being unknown to the test taker prior to administration which is to be administered by an agency, including, but not limited to, any public school, any unit of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, any public technical school, the State Board of Education, the Office of Student Achievement, the Professional Standards Commission, or a local school system, if reasonable measures are taken by the owner of the test to protect security and confidentiality; provided, however, that the State Board of Education may establish procedures whereby a person may view, but not copy, such records if viewing will not, in the judgment of the board, affect the result of administration of such test. These limitations shall not be interpreted by any court of law to include or otherwise exempt from inspection the records of any athletic association or other nonprofit entity promoting intercollegiate athletics;

(39)    Records disclosing the identity or personally identifiable information of any person participating in research on commercial, scientific, technical, medical, scholarly, or artistic issues conducted by the Department of Community Health, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, or a state institution of higher education whether sponsored by the institution alone or in conjunction with a governmental body or private entity;

(40)         Any permanent records maintained by a judge of the probate court pursuant to Code Section 16-11-129, relating to weapons carry licenses, or pursuant to any other requirement for maintaining records relative to the possession of firearms, except to the extent that such records relating to licensing and possession of firearms are sought by law enforcement agencies as provided by law;

(41)         Records containing communications subject to the attorney-client privilege recognized by state law; provided, however, that this paragraph shall not apply to the factual findings, but shall apply to the legal conclusions, of an attorney conducting an investigation on behalf of an agency so long as such investigation does not pertain to pending or potential litigation, settlement, claims, administrative proceedings, or other judicial actions brought or to be brought by or against the agency or any officer or employee; and provided, further, that such investigations conducted by hospital authorities to ensure compliance with federal or state law, regulations, or reimbursement policies shall be exempt from disclosure if such investigations are otherwise subject to the attorney-client privilege. Attorney-client communications, however, may be obtained in a proceeding under Code Section 50-18-73 to prove justification or lack thereof in refusing disclosure of documents under this Code section provided the judge of the court in which such proceeding is pending shall first determine by an in camera examination that such disclosure would be relevant on that issue. In addition, when an agency withholds information subject to this paragraph, any party authorized to bring a proceeding under Code Section 50-18-73 may request that the judge of the court in which such proceeding is pending determine by an in camera examination whether such information was properly withheld;

(42)         Confidential attorney work product; provided, however, that this paragraph shall not apply to the factual findings, but shall apply to the legal conclusions, of an attorney conducting an investigation on behalf of an agency so long as such investigation does not pertain to pending or potential litigation, settlement, claims, administrative proceedings, or other judicial actions brought or to be brought by or against the agency or any officer or employee; and provided, further, that such investigations conducted by hospital authorities to ensure compliance with federal or state law, regulations, or reimbursement policies shall be exempt from disclosure if such investigations are otherwise subject to confidentiality as attorney work product. In addition, when an agency withholds information subject to this paragraph, any party authorized to bring a proceeding under Code Section 50-18-73 may request that the judge of the court in which such proceeding is pending determine by an in camera examination whether such information was properly withheld;

(43)      Records containing tax matters or tax information that is confidential under state or federal law;

(44)            Records consisting of any computer program or computer software used or maintained in the course of operation of a public office or agency; provided, however, that data generated, kept, or received by an agency shall be subject to inspection and copying as provided in this article;

(45)           Records pertaining to the rating plans, rating systems, underwriting rules, surveys, inspections, statistical plans, or similar proprietary information used to provide or administer liability insurance or self-insurance coverage to any agency;

(46)           Documents maintained by the Department of Economic Development pertaining to an economic development project until the economic development project is secured by binding commitment, provided that any such documents shall be disclosed upon proper request after a binding commitment has been secured or the project has been terminated. No later than five business days after the Department of Economic Development secures a binding commitment and the department has committed the use of state funds from the OneGeorgia Authority or funds from Regional Economic Business Assistance for the project pursuant to Code Section 50-8-8, or other provisions of law, the Department of Economic Development shall give notice that a binding commitment has been reached by posting on its website notice of the project in conjunction with a copy of the Department of Economic Development's records documenting the bidding commitment made in connection with the project and the negotiation relating thereto and by publishing notice of the project and participating parties in the legal organ of each county in which the economic development project is to be located. As used in this paragraph, the term 'economic development project' means a plan or proposal to locate a business, or to expand a business, that would involve an expenditure of more than $25 million by the business or the hiring of more than 50 employees by the business; or

(47)         Records related to a training program operated under the authority of Article 3 of Chapter 4 of Title 20 disclosing an economic development project prior to a binding commitment having been secured, relating to job applicants, or identifying proprietary hiring practices, training, skills, or other business methods and practices of a private entity. As used in this paragraph, the term 'economic development project' means a plan or proposal to locate a business, or to expand a business, that would involve an expenditure of more than $25 million by the business or the hiring of more than 50 employees by the business.

(b) This Code section shall be interpreted narrowly so as to exclude from disclosure only that

portion of a public record to which an exclusion is directly applicable. It shall be the duty of the

agency having custody of a record to provide all other portions of a record for public inspection

or copying.

(c)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, an exhibit tendered to the court as evidence in a criminal or civil trial shall not be open to public inspection without approval of the judge assigned to the case.

(2) Except as provided in subsection (d) of this Code section, in the event inspection is not approved by the court, in lieu of inspection of such an exhibit, the custodian of such an exhibit shall, upon request, provide one or more of the following:

(A)             A photograph;

(B)              A photocopy,

(C)              A facsimile; or

(D)             Another reproduction.

(3) The provisions of this article regarding fees for production of a record, including, but not limited to, subsections (c) and (d) of Code Section 50-18-71, shall apply to exhibits produced according to this subsection.

(d) Any physical evidence that is used as an exhibit in a criminal or civil trial to show or support an alleged violation of Part 2 of Article 3 of Chapter 12 of Title 16 shall not be open to public inspection except by court order. If the judge approves inspection of such physical evidence, the judge shall designate, in writing, the facility owned or operated by an agency of the state or local government where such physical evidence may be inspected. If the judge permits inspection, such property or material shall not be photographed, copied, or reproduced by any means. Any person who violates the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 20 years, a fine of not more than $100,000.00, or both.

50-18-73.

(a)    The superior courts of this state shall have jurisdiction in law and in equity to entertain actions against persons or agencies having custody of records open to the public under this article to enforce compliance with the provisions of this article. Such actions may be brought by any person, firm, corporation, or other entity. In addition, the Attorney General shall have authority to bring such actions in his or her discretion as may be appropriate to enforce compliance with this article and to seek either civil or criminal penalties or both.

(b)   In any action brought to enforce the provisions of this chapter in which the court determines that either party acted without substantial justification either in not complying with this chapter or in instituting the litigation, the court shall, unless it finds that special circumstances exist, assess in favor of the complaining party reasonable attorney's fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred. Whether the position of the complaining party was substantially justified shall be determined on the basis of the record as a whole which is made in the proceeding for which fees and other expenses are sought.

(c)    Any agency or person who provides access to information in good faith reliance on the requirements of this chapter shall not be liable in any action on account of such decision.

50-18-74.

(a) Any person or entity knowingly and willfully violating the provisions of this article by failing or refusing to provide access to records not subject to exemption from this article, by knowingly and willingly failing or refusing to provide access to such records within the time limits set forth in this article, or by knowingly and willingly frustrating or attempting to frustrate the access to records by intentionally making records difficult to obtain or review shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000.00 for the first violation. Alternatively, a civil penalty may be imposed by the court in any civil action brought pursuant to this article against any person who negligently violates the terms of this article in an amount not to exceed $1,000.00 for the first violation. A civil penalty or criminal fine not to exceed $2,500.00 per violation may be imposed for each additional violation that the violator commits within a 12 month period from the date the first penalty or fine was imposed. It shall be a defense to any criminal action under this Code section that a person has acted in good faith in his or her actions. In addition, persons or entities that destroy records for the purpose of preventing their disclosure under this article may be subject to prosecution under Code Section 45-11-1.

(b) A prosecution under this Code section may only be commenced by issuance of a citation in the same manner as an arrest warrant for a peace officer pursuant to Code Section 17-4-40; such citation shall be personally served upon the accused. The defendant shall not be arrested prior to the time of trial, except that a defendant who fails to appear for arraignment or trial may thereafter be arrested pursuant to a bench warrant and required to post a bond for his or her future appearance.

50-18-75.

Communications between the Office of Legislative Counsel and the following persons shall be privileged and confidential: members of the General Assembly, the Lieutenant Governor, and persons acting on behalf of such public officers; and such communications, and records and work product relating to such communications, shall not be subject to inspection or disclosure under this article or any other law or under judicial process; provided, however, that this privilege shall not apply where it is waived by the affected public officer or officers. The privilege established under this Code section is in addition to any other constitutional, statutory, or common law privilege.

50-18-76.

No form, document, or other written matter which is required by law or rule or regulation to be filed as a vital record under the provisions of Chapter 10 of Title 31, which contains information which is exempt from disclosure under Code Section 31-10-25, and which is temporarily kept or maintained in any file or with any other documents in the office of the judge or clerk of any court prior to filing with the Department of Public Health shall be open to inspection by the general public, even though the other papers or documents in such file may be open to inspection.

50-18-77.

The procedures and fees provided for in this article shall not apply to public records, including records that are exempt from disclosure pursuant to Code Section 50-18-72, which are requested in writing by a state or federal grand jury, taxing authority, law enforcement agency, or prosecuting attorney in conjunction with an ongoing administrative, criminal, or tax investigation. The lawful custodian shall provide copies of such records to the requesting agency unless such records are privileged or disclosure to such agencies is specifically restricted by law.


 

Miller County Schools