Under Chapter 132 of the General statues of North Carolina, the Public Records Law of NC is made to guarantee the public of access to records that pertain to the public and is kept by the Governmental bodies. The first of the statues pertaining to public records was passed in the year 1935. As per the statement of purpose of the state, the public information and public records that are compiled by North Carolina Government Agencies or the subdivisions of the same belong to the public. Therefore, it is the state’s policy to allow people to get copies of the public information and public records at minimal cost, unless specified otherwise by the law.
The methods of public meetings conducted in North Carolina are regulated by the Open Meetings Law of the state. The law is defined by Article 33C of the state’s statutes 143?318.9-18. As per the statement of purpose for the Open Meetings Act of the state, all the public departments that administer the advisory functions, administrative, judicial, policy making and legislations of NC and their subdivisions that solely exist to conduct the business of the people, should have their actions, deliberations and hearings conducted openly.
All requests for public records in NC should be made to the public agency that keeps the records. No one is limited from requesting for public records. There are two types of records in North Carolina and both attract two separate fees. For the uncertified copies of public records, the department that provides the record will only charge the cost required for the duplication of the records and there will be no charge for the labor involved. But if the search required for the requested record is extensive and requires huge amount of staff time, there will be a special fee included with the total fee. As per the law, the fee required for the certified copies will be as per the indication by the law, but does not specify which law.
There are seventeen states in US that have no set any time frame to complete a FOIA request. As per, Section § 132-6 of the North Carolina General Assembly, the department or official who has the requested public records in custody should make it available under the supervision of any person, within a reasonable time, as quickly as possible and at a cost as indicated by the law.
The public records law of NC does mention that there are a few records that are exempt from being open to the public. These mostly include the personal information of public employees and other information that would be in the best interest of the public to be kept confidential. However, if a record contains both public and exempt material, then the law requires the custodian of the record to separate them and then release the non exempt part when requested.
Following are some of the notable exceptions:
- Attorney-client privilege
- Client-attorney privilege
- Records of Tax
- Information pertaining to the bills of the services extended by the local government.
- The program of classifying addresses
- Reporting of controlled substance
- Information pertaining to the admissions in State Universities
- Secrets of Trade
- Signatures and account numbers
- Security of Telecommunication
- Information of investigations done by law enforcement agencies
- Information for the 911 system
- Information kept by the emergency response plan
- Information regarding security
- Photos from Autopsy
- Materials from the preparation for trials
- Social security numbers and other personal information.
- Records of Incentive planning and economical developments
- Personal information of minors who have registered with Parks and Recreation department