Following are some of the milestone court decisions and attorney general opinions affecting the Oklahoma Open Records Act since it passed in 1985.
Tulsa Tribune Co. v. Oklahoma Horseracing Commission
The Oklahoma Supreme Court required public bodies or courts considering whether to release records to favor disclosure over denial. The party urging exemption has the burden of proof.
Attorney General's Opinion 1996-26
This opinion said records custodians can't sell those records to outside organizations and not provide them to the public as well. This was later determined to be applicable to private contractors as well.
Attorney General's Opinion 1999-55
This opinion negated a policy by the state Labor Department requiring those requesting records enter into written contracts. The opinion allows public entities to require information from requestors only to reasonably determine whether the request is for a commercial purpose which would allow a search fee.
Attorney General's Opinion 1999-58
This opinion found that pleadings in a criminal court case are records under the law and must be made available by court clerks once they are filed with the clerk's office unless the pleading has been sealed by a court or is protected by some other confidentiality privilege.
Attorney General's Opinion 2002-05
An “executive panel” convened by Gov. Frank Keating to discuss state preparedness after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks remained exempt from the Act because the panel was not a public body but rather a collection of public servants. However, documents that came into possession of the panel were open if the documents were taken back to their respective offices.
Attorney General Opinion 2009-12
The Attorney General ruled that emails, text messages and other electronic communications made or received in connection with the transaction of public business, expenditure of public funds or the administration of public property are subject to the Oklahoma Open Records Act. Public officials who use private email accounts or cell phones to conduct public business must make public the records of such business on request.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court decided in a 7-2 ruling that public employee birth dates are not open record. Although not specifically exempted under the law, justices found releasing employee birth dates would qualify as a “clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy” under the law.
Attorney General Opinion 2012-22
This opinion affirmed that mug shots taken by law enforcement of people who are arrested are open records and must be disclosed.