Friday, October 12, 2012

October 12, 2012 Knox Law Director Wants Public Records Requests Sent To His Office

The new Knox County Law Director has asked certain Knox County elected officials to send all public records requests to his office for documentation and response. Click here for the News-Sentinel article.

Richard Armstrong

The memo from Law Director Bud Armstrong went to Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, County Clerk Foster Arnett, Property Assessor Phil Ballard, Public Defender Mark Stephens, Register of Deeds Sherry Witt, Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones, and Trustee John Duncan III.  The memo is here.

Some officials have apparently agreed to funnel all requests through the Law Director while others such as Mayor Burchett indicated that they would continue to respond directly to requests when the request is for a document that is clearly a public record but may send requests involving medical or legal issues through the Law Director's Office.

News-Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy responded with an editorial in which he points out that Armstrong's memo shows in part a misunderstanding of the Public Records Law. McElroy also notes that Armstrong's  concerns and efforts might be better directed to providing training to elected officials regarding the Public Records Act.

County Clerk Foster Arnett is quoted as saying he will continue to respond directly to most requests.  "If we have any questions, we'll ask for their assistance but most of our stuff is cut and dry, and if someone asks for a public record then we're going to turn it over."  

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