Q&A: Email and phone records


From the Daily Journal (Franklin):

Q: Can a newspaper get emails and phone records of a county prosecutor, particularly those exchanged with a sheriff’s office technician? 

A: Phone records are disclosable public records if you are talking about the county-owned telephone in the prosecutor’s office, but the prosecutor’s private cell phone would not be subject to the Access to Public Records Act.

Emails, if part of the prosecutor’s or sheriff’s computer system, are also disclosable public records.

However, you may find that some of those records fall under the investigatory records exception, allowing the prosecutor and/or sheriff to keep those confidential.

Emails that are personal in nature and not concerning public business would be subject to inspection and copying, but you may run into a situation where they no longer exist.

Since they don’t involve public business, they are not subject to retention rules and could be deleted prior to your request.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.