Appeals court rules sheriff's office owes attorneys' fees after denying public records request

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee — The Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled that the Marshall County Sheriff's Office owes attorneys' fees to a man who had to sue in order to obtain public records.

Alex Friedmann requested several public records from the sheriff's office in February 2014. They included policies relating to prisoners' medical care and contracts. The sheriff's office refused to provide the records, insisting that Friedmann make his request in person. After months of back-and-forth, with Friedmann pointing out that citizens are not required to make requests in person, Friedmann sued.

The lower court in June 2014 ordered the sheriff's office to produce the records but declined to award attorneys' fees. The Court of Appeals on Wednesday said the lower court erred. The sheriff's office does owe attorneys' fees for willfully withholding the records.

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