Local measures | The Alabama Public Records Law is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to the records of government bodies at all levels in Alabama. (Source: Pixabay) By Shannon Isbell | July 9, 2019 at 4:02 PM CDT - Updated July 12 at 5:36 AM . This is punishable with a one year jail sentence, however the Attorney General does not have power to enforce the Public Records Law himself. The Alabama Public Records Law under Al. The National Association of Counties published this report to serve as a reference tool for county officials . Campaign finance requirements | Here you will find a collection of state laws passed by the Alabama Legislature and organized by subject area into Titles, Chapters and Sections. A person commits the crime of tampering with governmental records if; (1) “He knowingly makes a false entry in or falsely alters any governmental record; or (2) Knowing he lacks the authority to do so, he intentionally destroys, mutilates, conceals, removes or otherwise substantially impairs the verity or availability of any governmental record; or (3) Knowing he lacks the authority to retain a governmental record he refuses to deliver up the record in his possession upon proper request of a person lawfully entitled to receive such record for examination or other purposes.” Ala. Code § 13A-10-12(a) (1994). Provided however, registration and circulation records and information concerning the use of the public, public school or college and university libraries of this state shall be exempted from this section. Ballot access for parties | The Alabama Open Meetings Act governs the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Largest counties | However, if budgetary constraints prevent this, then a public agency may charge a nominal fee, if necessary, to cover its costs in providing copies of public records. Cancel. BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - When it comes to transparency, one Alabama senator says our state is as murky as it gets. if(document.getElementsByClassName("reference").length==0) if(document.getElementById('Footnotes')!==null) document.getElementById('Footnotes').parentNode.style.display = 'none'; Alabama elections in 2021 | This Tuesday afternoon, Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) plans to do something … District Courts | The Alabama Public Records Law is ambiguous as to whether the law applies to the legislature. Federal courts | Years before 1923, there were no laws in Alabama State regarding access to public records. Generally, searchers can determine where the records they wish to view are located through internet searches. Alabama Public Records Law. Write to us at info@MuckRock.com if you know of any and want to help us out! No, Alabama law does not allow for a records custodian or ombudsman. It is unclear whether "citizen" indicates citizens of the state of Alabama or U.S. citizens. Affirmed: In the practice of the appellate courts, the decree or order is declared valid and will stand as rendered in the lower court. The official Alabama code indicates that no purpose must be stated in order to request open records. [2] The Alabama legislature has passed bills banning the transfer of these funds among political action committees each year beginning in 2000, but the bills have never become law. The law was first enacted in 1923 and changed in 1983, and then in 2004. Alabama Recording Law Summary: Ala. Code § 13A-11-30. The act is silent as to the appropriate use of fees. [8], A 2008 study, the BGA - Alper Integrity Index, conducted by the Better Government Association and sponsored by Alper Services, ranked Alabama #48 in the nation with an overall percentage of 34.90% in regards to transparency. This Ballotpedia article is in need of updates. In 1987 the legislature created the Alabama Local Government Records Commission in order to serve the same function for local government records. However, the broad definition of public body would presumably include state legislators. There are no established time requirements within the Alabama code other than that public officers are required to surrender the records once they have received the appropriate fees. Public safety records not more than $15 The format of this publication is intended to outline the key aspects of public records laws and facilitate comparisons between each state. Many Alabama public records are available to view for free online or at the government office tasked with housing them. Immigration | Code §36-25A-1 et seq. Alabama also has a fairly open ended exemption relating to documents concerning public safety and security. State constitution, Courts in Alabama | Cost. Largest cities | Water Works & Sewer Board of the City of Talladega v. Consolidated Publishing Inc. States Failing FOI Responsiveness, National Freedom of Information Coalition, October 2007, https://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php?title=Alabama_Public_Records_Law&oldid=7832184, Tracking election disputes, lawsuits, and recounts, Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing, Submit a photo, survey, video, conversation, or bio. Declared legal intentions across the U.S. However, a number of lawsuits have altered this. For any certificate and the annexation of the state seal, there will be a charge of $5.00. Unless the requester is from a governmental agency, there are no fee waivers in Alabama for public records. The Alabama Public Records Law is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to the records of government bodies at all levels in Alabama. [10], A 2002 study, Freedom of Information in the USA, conducted by IRE and BGA, ranked Alabama's law as the worst in the country, giving it a letter grade of "F."[11], The Alabama law does not have a clear declaration of philosophical intention. Energy | Further, a 1991 decision, Blankenship v. City of Hoover, affirmed the right of departments to inquire as to the reason for a public records request. Ala. Code § 36-12-40. The board may designate vital records registration districts within the state. ; Answer: The formal written statement by a defendant responding to a civil complaint and setting forth the grounds for defense. 2005). They collect, archive and issue certified copies of birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates. Environment | Healthcare | Terms Used In Alabama Code 16-22-14. Local registrars and deputy registrars of vital statistics. Every effort will be made to provide public records within a reasonable time. Code of Alabama. General Provisions Title 2. Agriculture Title 3. State Senate | Supreme Court | The Alabama Public Records Law under Al. While the law states that any citizen can file a request, it is not specified what one must be a citizen of, and in some cases this is used to deny a request as they can argue that one must be a citizen of Alabama. The law can be found at statutes 36.12.40-41 and 41.13.1 - 41.13.44 of the Code of Alabama. This section provides you easy access to public information contained in our databases. Welcome to the Secretary of State's Government Records section. State legislature | Search by Keyword or Citation; Search by Keyword or Citation . MuckRock is a non-profit collaborative news site that gives you the tools to keep our government transparent and accountable. View source for Alabama Public Records law Jump to: navigation , search '''Section 36-12-40''' of Alabama state law explains the rights of citizens to inspect and copy public writings and the exceptions: ''Every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute. However, due to the language of the law not specifying where one must be a citizen from, Alabama can deny a request because they are not an Alabama citizen. It might difficult to find records in Alabama if you don’t know where to find authentic information about public records, marriage records, birth records and divorce records and so on. The second application requires that a corporation be funded, created, controlled and function as a public body for it to be considered a public body. While the law states that any citizen can file a request, it is not … When it comes to transparency and accountability, Alabama ranks as one of the worst states in the country. [5], Senate Bill 207 was the companion bill to House Bill 154. By Alabama law, marriage certificates are unrestricted. spotteredu (Auburn University Athletic Department), Jason Koebler sent this request to the Auburn University Athletic Department of Alabama, 2020 Vigilant Data Sharing Information - Automated License Plate Reader (Foley Police Department), Dave Maass sent this request to the Foley Police Department of Foley, AL, Alec Robinson sent this request to the Auburn University Athletic Department of Alabama, Anti-Abortion Agencies Requests (Department of Public Health), Shafaq Patel (@shafaqpatel) sent this request to the Department of Public Health of Alabama, Specialty "Choose Life" License Plates (Department of Revenue), Mackenzie Farkus sent this request to the Department of Revenue of Alabama, Files relating to the shooting of Emantic "EJ" Bradford, Jr. (Office of the Attorney General - Alabama), Liam Knox sent this request to the Office of the Attorney General of Alabama, Josh Doggrell and Wayne Brown – Anniston PD, Brendan O'Connor sent this request to the City Clerk of Anniston, AL, Records request from BuzzFeed News: Incident reports for crimes of aggravated assault, Peter Aldhous sent this request to the Mobile Police Department of Mobile, AL, Emergency Management Assistance Compact for Standing Rock NoDAPL Protests (Morgan County Sheriff's Office), Curtis Waltman sent this request to the Morgan County Sheriff's Office of Morgan County, AL, 2018 Vigilant Data Sharing Information (Foley Police Department). Redistricting, List of Alabama ballot measures | The Alabama code provides an expansive definition to "public officers," which includes not only elected or appointed officials but also "all persons whatsoever occupying positions in state institutions."[13]. Alabama Public Records. This post shows where to find such information in Alabama. Although there is precedence for filing suit to prove that a long enough wait time is a denial-of-request, wait times for public records can be lengthy in Alabama. [15], The purpose of the Alabama Open Meetings Act reads as follows: "It is the policy of this state that the deliberative process of governmental bodies shall be open to the public during meetings" and "[e]xcept for executive sessions permitted in Section 36-25A-7(a) or as otherwise expressly provided by other federal or state statutes, all meetings of a governmental body shall be open to the public and no meetings of a governmental body may be held without providing notice. the public disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to be detrimental to the public safety or welfare.” Ala. Code § 36-12-40 (Supp. The official Alabama code does not impose any limitations on the use of records. Court Decisions and information, Constitution, Legislation, Rules of Practice and Procedure, Administrative Law Sources, Municipal Codes, legal publications, and forms. [3] It was assigned to the Government Operations Committee on February 26, 2009. Vital records and statistics for Alabama are handled by the Center for Health Statistics. While there are no branches of government or government offices that are specified as being exempt, records of public schools, universities or colleges, and libraries are. Appellate records $5 for one to ten pages and $0.50 per page for than ten Bill aimed at open records law. [9], A 2007 study, Graded state responsiveness to FOI requests, conducted by BGA and the NFOIC, gave Alabama 0 points out of a possible 100, a letter grade of "F" and a ranking of 49 out of the 50 states. That said, however, the state Attorney General could potentially be called upon to prosecute violators of the open records law under the Code of Alabama 1975, § 13A-10-12, which addresses tampering with governmental records. Search fees are typically waived, however for certain departments like the Department of Corrections there is a flat $25 fee for them to begin to process a request. The Criminal Records Identification Unit also includes the Criminal History Section and the Automated Fingerprint Identification Services (AFIS) Section. The following attorneys and law firms have practiced public records law. All records for public libraries, schools, and universities are exempt as well as records concerning citizen’s safety and security. By Catherine Patterson | February 20, 2020 at 8:39 PM CST - Updated February 21 at 11:00 PM . Birth certificates are private records for 125 years after the birth date and require proper identification and legal guardianship, repres… (Acts 1992, No. Furthermore, agencies don’t need to have a designated records custodian and no ombudsman exists here, so there are few places one can go to have an advocate for their request. grants citizens the right to inspect and copy public writings. Records are to be inspected in the offices of the Secretary of State. The board may from time to time, as conditions justify, consolidate or subdivide the districts to facilitate registration. If you would like to help our coverage grow, consider donating to Ballotpedia. | The law does state that "Every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute. 92-607, p. 1255, §4.) 2. What's on my ballot? Circuit Courts | . Alabama Public Records. Duplication fees run the following: Criminal justice records not more than $25 Court of Civil Appeals | (1) “registration and circulation records and information concerning the use of the public, public school or college and university libraries of this state”; and (2) “records concerning security plans, procedures, assessments, measures, or systems, and any other records relating to, or having an impact upon, the security or safety of persons, structures, facilities, or other infrastructures . Taxes. Instead a civil action must be filed in order to potentially free the record. Alabama’s Public Records Law contains no prescribed time for an agency to respond to a records request, but the Alabama Attorney General has stated that a custodian of records may not cause “unreasonable delays” in accommodating a request for public records. The following organizations offer resources for those seeking public records in Alabama. One may inspect public records without paying a fee unless a substantial amount of an employee’s time is required.” (http://www.ago.alabama.gov/opinions/pdf/2009-076.pdf). Financial regulation | By the terms of the Public Records Law, public records in Alabama are available for inspection and copying. Have a good story on Utah public records laws? The history of Alabama case law lends itself to two clear applications of public records laws to nonprofits or private entities. This statute states “public records” shall include all written, typed or printed books, papers, letters, documents and maps made or received in pursuance of law by the public officers of the state, counties, municipalities and other subdivisions of … The law was first enacted in 1923. Alabama recording law stipulates that it is a one party consent state. Alabama law does not currently contain a deliberative process exemption for any office. Ballot measure laws | Return to: Guide to Court Resources Every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute. Information is available from the Business Entities Division, Elections Division, Authentication Division and the UCC Division. Yes, they need to be able to cite why your request was denied, or why a portion was redacted or withheld. There are no appeals for a Public Records decision in the State of Alabama. This is a rare occurrence. Search fees can only be charged if a substantial amount of an employee’s time is required in searching according to the Attorney General. The Attorney General’s office in Alabama has historically stated the following opinion regarding fees; “If possible, a public agency should provide free copies of public records. This legislation cites that all public records are presumed to be … There is no language in the bill which states how long the state has to respond to a request. This is especially so with no designated records custodian, and no language forcing them to expedite the process. "[16], Here is a list of lawsuits in Alabama (cases are listed alphabetically; to order them by year, please click the icon to the right of the "year" heading). Pursuant to the statute, every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of the state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute. New bill aims to overhaul current Alabama Open Records Law. Alabama Public Records Law, like most states’ laws, can be vague and at times difficult to pin down. [8] It was assigned to the Education Committee in the Senate. The law can be found at statutes 36.25A.1 - 36.25A.11 of the Code of Alabama. There is no set appeals process for Public Records Law in Alabama. In terms of fees, some have been expressly stipulated by law, other documents are left up to the specified custodian to decide how much to charge for. Public education | The Alabama law does not encourage the use of search fees nor does it prevent public bodies from charging them. http://www.ago.alabama.gov/opinions/pdf/2009-076.pdf. [7], Senate Bill 399 sought to make background checks performed on employees of secondary education institutions confidential and not subject to public records laws. The Alabama Public Records Law does not have an established response time they must comply with, only saying they will process a request when appropriate fees have been received. Each individual driving record is $5.75 For these reasons, requesting open records in Alabama can be a very difficult task, making it all the more important a requester knows APRL well before engaging in the process. The law was first enacted in 1923. The statewide program called ViSION allow every health department in every Alabama county to also issue the same information. The Alabama Public Records Law is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to the records of government bodies at all levels, and peoples conduct in Alabama. There will be a charge of $1.00 per page for public records, as well as a charge of $1.50 for the annexation of the state seal. . Public records are the only tools the public — not just the media or nosy environmentalists — have to see what our government is up to. AFIS is responsible for analyzing, storing, matching, and retrieving fingerprint images within the system. "[12], Public records are defined by the Code of Alabama as "all written, typed or printed books, papers, letters, documents and maps made or received in pursuance of law by the public officers of the state, counties, municipalities and other subdivisions of government in the transactions of public business and shall also include any record authorized to be made by any law of this state belonging or pertaining to any court of record or any other public record authorized by law or any paper, pleading, exhibit or other writing filed with, in or by any such court, office or officer. [2], House Bill 295 would have required the public disclosure of the names of public officials, spouses of public officials or candidates who have a contract with or are employed by the state, county or a municipality. The Alabama Public Records Law states that, "Every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute."[12]. Code §36-12-40 grants citizens the right to inspect and copy public writings. In terms of fees, some have been expressly stipulated by law, other documents are left up to the specified custodian to decide how much to charge for. There is no language in the bill which states how long the state has to respond to a request. The Alabama open records law contains only two general exemptions from the right of citizens to inspect and copy public writings: library circulation records and records expressly made confidential by statute. See Code of Alabama 1975 section 36-14-3. While no governmental branches or bodies are explicitly exempted in the code, Alabama does reserve the right to classify certain records as confidential or “nonpublic” as well as a list of exemptions. Congressional delegation | Exemptions in Alabama can also be tricky to navigate. Election governance | The fee to search for a marriage certificate is $15.00, which includes one certified copy of the marriage certificate or a "Certificate of Failure to Find." Any citizen or media source that wishes to self-enforce this law must do so in court by filing a civil action. The Alabama State Records Commission was established in 1955 by the Alabama Public Records Law in order to determine what records to keep and which are to be destroyed. Campaign finance requirements, Who represents me? Names marked with an asterisk have indicated a willingness to offer pro bono services on a case by case basis. grants citizens the right to inspect and copy public writings. charged with keeping public records. The first application only requires that a private corporation function as a public body but recommends that a court consider the origin of the corporation, how it presented itself and the degree of control that a public body has over the corporation as additional factors that aid in their determination. Pursuant to the statute, every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of the state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute. Alabama Public Records Law The Alabama Public Records Law under Al. Probate Courts, Budget and finances | Public Records Directory; General Resources. Online orders are handled by a 3rd party provider, VitalChek. The mission of Alabama State Records is to grant every person the right to detect, obtain, preview and examine state public records in accordance with Alabama’s Public Records Law. Residents and non-residents may submit requests. Let us know. "[12], Exemptions to the definition of public records include the records of library materials checked out by library patrons (except in the case of minors, whose parents may request records) and records relating to the security of individuals and infrastructure.[12]. [3] Its companion bill in the Senate was Senate Bill 208. In Holcombe v. State ex rel. Alabama Public Records Law. Due to there being no designated records custodian in the Public Records Law of Alabama, and there being no language in the law itself outlining enforcement of the law, enforcement is spotty at best and the requester has to be his own enforcer in many ways. Public pensions | – A new bill being offered aims to change Alabama’s open records law. Aviation Title 5. School districts in Alabama | Pursuant to the statute, every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of the state, except as … Want the latest investigative and FOIA news? Alabama public records law doesn’t benefit the public. Have a public records success story? Ballotpedia features 319,299 encyclopedic articles written and curated by our professional staff of editors, writers, and researchers. Alabama Constitution of 1901 Title 1. Voting in Alabama | The Alabama Supreme Court defines public writings and public records as records which are “reasonably necessary to record the business and activities required to be done or carried on by a public officer so that the status and condition of such business and activities can be known by our citizens.” This makes civil action the only other recourse for someone wishing to challenge the state’s ruling, which can be expensive and time consuming. See above for a more complete breakdown of exemptions. In some cases, they can access additional information for a fee. Click here to contact us for media inquiries, and please donate here to support our continued expansion. [4], Senate Bill 353 would have made any meeting in which a state party participates subject to the state's Open Meetings Act. It is also important to note Alabama has no appeals process for a denied records request. Public Records Law Al. Court of Criminal Appeals | List of who can make public record requests by state, Alabama Local Government Records Commission, Dunn v. Alabama State University Board of Trustees, Montgomery Advertiser v. Montgomery County Board of Education, Slawson & Furman v. Alabama Forestry Commission. The definition of public body presumably includes public universities within the state. No. In Alabama it is a criminal offense to use any device to record communications whether it’s wire, oral or electronic without the consent of … Part of the Alabama code on tampering with governmental records can be read to apply to the Public Records Law. To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see: Alabama FOIA procedures, House Bill 154 sought to prohibit the transferring of funds from one political action committee to another. Yes, if one is a citizen of the United States they can request public records. File a complaint in the state circuit court in the county where the custodian of the records resides. There are currently no experienced public records law attorneys that we know of in Alabama. [4], House Bill 876 sought to make poll lists signed by voters the property of political parties and thereby subject to the open records law. [6], Senate Bill 208 was the companion bill to House Bill 295. [14], The fee structures are left to the discretion of the public records official within the department from whom the records are requested.[14]. BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - If you wanted to know what the City of Birmingham spends on the gunshot detection system ShotSpotter in … They may be requested by anyone who can provide enough information to search for the record and submit payment of the proper fee. Code §36-25A-1 et seq. Additional information is compiled from records on notaries public and Acts of Alabama as passed by the Alabama Legislature, … State executives | Chandler the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that records may not be requested for mere "idle curiosity." Alabama grants every "citizen" the right to access open records. The Alabama Public Records Law is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to the records of government bodies at all levels in Alabama. The law can be found at statutes 36.12.40-41 and 41.13.1 - 41.13.44 of the Code of Alabama. Depending on what you’re interested in, these exemptions can make the Alabama Public Records Law (APRL) challenging to deal with, particularly when requesting certain kinds of information. | The information found in this guide reflects the statutes as of the date of this publication. Elections calendar | 2021 legislative session | Each county in the state shall be a registration district unless and until changed by the board. Applies to all governmental branches and offices but not to records of public or state university libraries, records that deal with security systems, measures or other records dealing with the safety and security of citizens, and also exempted of course are any records deemed confidential or “nonpublic” by the state. Judicial Selection | 4. Alabama's Legal Information Network; Public Libraries; American Law Sources Online - Alabama. Alabama Public Records Law & Social Media. Senator Cam Ward from Alabaster is sponsoring a bill he says would provide more … Search Code of Alabama. Let us know! [1] It was passed in the House on February 12, 2009 and sent to the Senate as Senate Bill 207, where it was assigned to the Constitutions and Election Committee. Pursuant to Alabama's Public Records Law, I hereby request the following records: A log of public records requests submitted to the Department of Human Resources that lists the date of request, the requester's name, the requester's organizational affiliation, a description of the request and the date the request was filled. Animals Title 4. In practice, this isn’t always the case. It was assigned to the Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics and Elections Committees in the Senate. This presumption has been confirmed by a few court cases, including Birmingham News Co. v. Muse, which held that NCAA letters of inquiry submitted to the university are public, and The Advertiser Co. v. Lee, which held that NCAA self-reported violations were public. Ballot access for candidates | [3] Since there are a multitude of records available, it can be difficult to know how or where to access them. All other records are up to the specific custodian to decide on an appropriate fee. The Public Records Law, however, does not require the state to research, inspect, identify, copy, assemble, or make arrangements to deliver the documents to the citizen. House of Representatives | Alabama Public Records Law, like most states’ laws, can be vague and at times difficult to pin down. Alabama has no language in its public records code that specifies how long they have to comply with your request. It is requested that citizens inspecting public records … § 22-9A-5. State open records laws do not give the state Attorney General a specific role to play within the enforcement of the measure. Social media records in Alabama fall under Title 41, chapter 13 of the code of Alabama, which defines public records.