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TN Court of Appeals rules against CCA in PLN public records suit

Associated Press, Jan. 1, 2013.
TN Court of Appeals rules against CCA in PLN public records suit - Associated Press 2013

Appeals court rules against CCA in records case

Published 9:33 am, Saturday, March 2, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled that Corrections Corporation of America's legal settlements are subject to the state Open Records law.

In a ruling filed on Feb. 28, the court said it disagreed with CCAs assertion that the company shouldn't have to turn over settlement-related records because they aren't part of the "official business" of running a prison.

The request for settlement agreements from CCA was part of a public records request made in 2007 by Alex Friedmann, the editor of Prison Legal News.

The company turned over some documents after a 2009 Appeals Court ruling that CCA is subject to the state's Open Records law, but the legal settlements weren't included.

CCA argued that the settlements didn't fall under the statute's definition of a public record and that because they were created for litigation — not the running of the prison — they weren't subject to the law.

The court rejected both arguments.

"Settlement agreements have consistently been held to be public records by our courts," the opinion stated.

The court also disagreed with the company's argument that the legal settlements aren't part of its official business.

"The language of the statute and the vast majority of case law clearly flies in the face of this interpretation," the ruling said.