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Rule 34: Public Access to Court Records.

(1) Right to Inspect Public Records

The public has a statutory right to inspect public records maintained by government agencies. Accordingly, the public has the right to inspect public records maintained by the courts of this State unless the record is expressly excepted from inspection under the Public Records Act, see Tennessee Code Annotated section 10-7-504; or unless otherwise provided by state law, including this Rule and other rules of court, see Tennessee Code Annotated section 10-7-503(a)(2)(A). Requests to inspect public records maintained by the courts are, however, subject to reasonable requirements and restrictions intended to preserve the integrity of the record, the parties' right to the record for the purpose of preparing their papers, the courts' deliberative process, and the efficient operation of the courts in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 16-3-401.

(2) Court Records

(A) For the purposes of this Rule and the public records policies promulgated by the courts, a "record" includes any record defined as a "public record" in Tennessee Code Annotated section 10-7-503(a)(1)(A).

(B) Court Records include Case Records, Administrative Records, and Judicial Records.

          (i) Case Record means any record created, collected, received, or maintained by 
          the courts as a part of the official court file in connection with a particular case.

          (ii) Administrative Record means any record created, collected, received, or
          maintained by the courts pertaining to the administration of the courts and not
          associated with a particular case.

          (iii) Judicial Record means any record of the courts other than Case Records or
          Administrative Records.

(C) The following Court Records are not public records shall be treated as confidential and shall not be open for inspection by members of the public:

(i) Documents expressly excepted from inspection under the Public Records Act,
Tennessee Code Annotated section 10-7-504, or otherwise excepted from
 inspection under state law, Tennessee Code Annotated section 10-7-503(a)(2)(A);

(ii) Documents protected from disclosure by order or rule of court, including but not limited to documents sealed pursuant to an order of the court or the subject of a protective order;

            (iii) Unpublished drafts of judicial orders and opinions;

            (iv) Copies, unless intentionally filed as part of the Case Record, of motions, 
            petitions, briefs, and other similar documents filed with the clerks of the courts that
            have been furnished to a judge for his or her individual use;

            (v) Written or electronic conference records, notes, memoranda, reports, or other
            documents of a similar nature prepared by a judge, judicial staff, or Administrative
            Office of the Courts on behalf of, or at the direction of, a court or judge.  This
            includes written or electronic records, notes, memoranda, reports, or other
            documents of a similar nature created or received as part of a court's judicial or
            administrative deliberate process unless intentionally filed as part of the Case
            Record;

           (vi) All internal case management information except for information concerning the
           composition of appellate case panels assigned to consider a particular case;

           (vii) Information maintained by individual judges with regard to their recusal from
           particular cases unless the information is intentionally filed as part of the Case
           Record or unless it is subject to disclosure pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann.
           §§  8-50-501, 8-50-506 or Tenn. S. Ct. R. 10; and

           (viii) Any other written or electronic record the disclosure of which would frustrate or
           interfere with the judicial function of the courts or potentially undermine the inherent
           constitutional powers granted the court, in addition to the powers recognized in
           Tennessee Code Annotated sections 16-3-501 through 16-3-504.

Comment

[1] Sections three (3) through six (6) of Rule 34 have been omitted.  Consistent with the Public Records Act, Tennessee Code Annotated section 10-7-503(g), the Court has promulgated a separate written public records policy applicable to the appellate courts of this State, which includes the following: the process for making requests to inspect public records or receive copies of public records of the appellate courts; the process for appellate courts responding to requests, including redaction practices; a statement of any fees charged for copies of public records of the appellate courts and the procedures for billing and payment; and the name or title and the contact information of the individual or individuals within the appellate courts designated as the public records request coordinator.  The trial courts similarly shall promulgate written public records policies pursuant to the Public Records Act, Tennessee Code Annotated section 10-7-503(g).

[2] The reference in section (C)(ii) of this Rule to “rule of court” is not intended to and does not include local rules of the trial courts.

[Added by order filed August 26, 1999, and as amended by order filed and effective September 15, 2017.]

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