- 2004 FRATERNAL LAW CONFERENCE November 19-20, 2004
- NEW YORK SUIT SEEKS TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION RIGHTS
- NATIONAL RESOLUTION SUPPORTS FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS
- VICTIMS OF RAPE — AND ALCOHOL
- PRIVATE CAMPUS — PUBLIC RECORDS
- A PLEDGE DROWNS — $12.6 MILLION DOLLAR VERDICT
- FLORIDA RECONSIDERS HAZING STATUTE
Newsletter > March 2004 > "PRIVATE CAMPUS — PUBLIC RECORDS"
PRIVATE CAMPUS — PUBLIC RECORDS
Tim Burke, Manley Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org
Certain records of even private college campuses may not be exempt from public disclosure. A Georgia Superior Court judge ruled in February that Mercer University, a private college, must turn over records compiled by its police department relating to rapes and sexual assaults on campus.
Relying on the Georgia open records law, an Atlanta law firm sued for access to those records. The trial court focused not on the private status of Mercer University, but on the actions of its police officers, who had all of the powers of public law enforcement officers. The court ruled that records that related to the work of the college’s police department were public records. As the court noted:
“Although Mercer argues that its police force is not performing public functions, the enforcement of the laws of this state; the preservation of public order; the protection of life and property; the prevention, detection or investigation of a crime; are all clearly public functions. Accordingly, as the Mercer University Police Department performs public functions, it is subject to the Open Records Act….
“The intent of the Open Records Act is to encourage public access to information and to promote confidence in government through openness to the public. Moreover, the purpose of the act is so that the public can evaluate whether its institutions are functioning properly and efficiently.”
While the court ordered that information that would identify the victims, such as names, telephone numbers and addresses, be removed, the court ordered that the records sought be produced.1
1 Barrett & Farahany, LLP v. The Corporation of Mercer University/Mercer University Police Department, Superior Court of Bibb County, Georgia, Civil Action No. 03CV22657.