Chapter 132.

Public Records.

§ 132-1.  "Public records" defined.

(a)        "Public record" or "public records" shall mean all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films, sound recordings, magnetic or other tapes, electronic data-processing records, artifacts, or other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance in connection with the transaction of public business by any agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions. Agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions shall mean and include every public office, public officer or official (State or local, elected or appointed), institution, board, commission, bureau, council, department, authority or other unit of government of the State or of any county, unit, special district or other political subdivision of government.

(b)        The public records and public information compiled by the agencies of North Carolina government or its subdivisions are the property of the people. Therefore, it is the policy of this State that the people may obtain copies of their public records and public information free or at minimal cost unless otherwise specifically provided by law. As used herein, "minimal cost" shall mean the actual cost of reproducing the public record or public information. (1935, c. 265, s. 1; 1975, c. 787, s. 1; 1995, c. 388, s. 1.)

 

§ 132-1.1.  Confidential communications by legal counsel to public board or agency; State tax information; public enterprise billing information; Address Confidentiality Program information.

(a)        Confidential Communications. - Public records, as defined in G.S. 132-1, shall not include written communications (and copies thereof) to any public board, council, commission or other governmental body of the State or of any county, municipality or other political subdivision or unit of government, made within the scope of the attorney-client relationship by any attorney-at-law serving any such governmental body, concerning any claim against or on behalf of the governmental body or the governmental entity for which such body acts, or concerning the prosecution, defense, settlement or litigation of any judicial action, or any administrative or other type of proceeding to which the governmental body is a party or by which it is or may be directly affected. Such written communication and copies thereof shall not be open to public inspection, examination or copying unless specifically made public by the governmental body receiving such written communications; provided, however, that such written communications and copies thereof shall become public records as defined in G.S. 132-1 three years from the date such communication was received by such public board, council, commission or other governmental body.

(b)        State and Local Tax Information. - Tax information may not be disclosed except as provided in G.S. 105-259. As used in this subsection, "tax information" has the same meaning as in G.S. 105-259. Local tax records that contain information about a taxpayer's income or receipts may not be disclosed except as provided in G.S. 153A-148.1 and G.S. 160A-208.1.

(c)        Public Enterprise Billing Information. - Billing information compiled and maintained by a city or county or other public entity providing utility services in connection with the ownership or operation of a public enterprise, excluding airports, is not a public record as defined in G.S. 132-1. Nothing contained herein is intended to limit public disclosure by a city or county of billing information:

(1)        That the city or county determines will be useful or necessary to assist bond counsel, bond underwriters, underwriters' counsel, rating agencies or investors or potential investors in making informed decisions regarding bonds or other obligations incurred or to be incurred with respect to the public enterprise;

(2)        That is necessary to assist the city, county, State, or public enterprise to maintain the integrity and quality of services it provides; or

(3)        That is necessary to assist law enforcement, public safety, fire protection, rescue, emergency management, or judicial officers in the performance of their duties.

As used herein, "billing information" means any record or information, in whatever form, compiled or maintained with respect to individual customers by any owner or operator of a public enterprise, as defined in G.S. 160A-311, excluding subdivision (9), and G.S. 153A-274, excluding subdivision (4), or other public entity providing utility services, excluding airports, relating to services it provides or will provide to the customer.

(d)       Address Confidentiality Program Information. - The actual address and telephone number of a program participant in the Address Confidentiality Program established under Chapter 15C of the General Statutes is not a public record within the meaning of Chapter 132. The actual address and telephone number of a program participant may not be disclosed except as provided in Chapter 15C of the General Statutes.

(e)        Controlled Substances Reporting System Information. - Information compiled or maintained in the Controlled Substances Reporting System established under Article 5E of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes is not a public record as defined in G.S. 132-1 and may be released only as provided under Article 5E of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes.

(f)        Personally Identifiable Admissions Information. - Records maintained by The University of North Carolina or any constituent institution, or by the Community Colleges System Office or any community college, which contain personally identifiable information from or about an applicant for admission to one or more constituent institutions or to one or more community colleges shall be confidential and shall not be subject to public disclosure pursuant to G.S. 132-6(a). Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, any letter of recommendation or record containing a communication from an elected official to The University of North Carolina, any of its constituent institutions, or to a community college, concerning an applicant for admission who has not enrolled as a student shall be considered a public record subject to disclosure pursuant to G.S. 132-6(a). Nothing in this subsection is intended to limit the disclosure of public records that do not contain personally identifiable information, including aggregated data, guidelines, instructions, summaries, or reports that do not contain personally identifiable information or from which it is feasible to redact any personally identifiable information that the record contains. As used in this subsection, the term "community college" is as defined in G.S. 115D-2(2), the term "constituent institution" is as defined in G.S. 116-2(4), and the term "Community Colleges System Office" is as defined in G.S. 115D-3.

(g)        Public Agency Proprietary Computer Code. - Proprietary computer code written by and for use by an agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions is not a public record as defined in G.S. 132-1.  (1975, c. 662; 1993, c. 485, s. 38; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 646, s. 21; 2001-473, s. 1; 2002-171, s. 7; 2003-287, s. 1; 2005-276, s. 10.36(b); 2007-372, s. 2; 2013-96, s. 1.)

 

§ 132-1.2.  Confidential information.

Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to require or authorize a public agency or its subdivision to disclose any information that:

(1)        Meets all of the following conditions:

a.         Constitutes a "trade secret" as defined in G.S. 66-152(3).

b.         Is the property of a private "person" as defined in G.S. 66-152(2).

c.         Is disclosed or furnished to the public agency in connection with the owner's performance of a public contract or in connection with a bid, application, proposal, industrial development project, or in compliance with laws, regulations, rules, or ordinances of the United States, the State, or political subdivisions of the State.

d.         Is designated or indicated as "confidential" or as a "trade secret" at the time of its initial disclosure to the public agency.

(2)        Reveals an account number for electronic payment as defined in G.S. 147-86.20 and obtained pursuant to Articles 6A or 6B of Chapter 147 of the General Statutes or G.S. 159-32.1.

(3)        Reveals a document, file number, password, or any other information maintained by the Secretary of State pursuant to Article 21 of Chapter 130A of the General Statutes.

(4)        Reveals the electronically captured image of an individual's signature, date of birth, drivers license number, or a portion of an individual's social security number if the agency has those items because they are on a voter registration document.

(5)        Reveals the seal of a licensed design professional who is licensed under Chapter 83A or Chapter 89C of the General Statutes that has been submitted for project approval to (i) a municipality under Part 5 of Article 19 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes or (ii) to a county under Part 4 of Article 18 of Chapter 153A of the General Statutes. Notwithstanding this exemption, a municipality or county that receives a request for a document submitted for project approval that contains the seal of a licensed design professional who is licensed under Chapter 83A or Chapter 89C of the General Statutes and that is otherwise a public record by G.S. 132-1 shall allow a copy of the document without the seal of the licensed design professional to be examined and copied, consistent with any rules adopted by the licensing board under Chapter 83A or Chapter 89C of the General Statutes regarding an unsealed document.  (1989, c. 269; 1991, c. 745, s. 3; 1999-434, s. 7; 2001-455, s. 2; 2001-513, s. 30(b); 2003-226, s. 5; 2004-127, s. 17(b); 2009-346, s. 1.)

 

§ 132-1.3.  Settlements made by or on behalf of public agencies, public officials, or public employees; public records.

(a)        Public records, as defined in G.S. 132-1, shall include all settlement documents in any suit, administrative proceeding or arbitration instituted against any agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions, as defined in G.S. 132-1, in connection with or arising out of such agency's official actions, duties or responsibilities, except in an action for medical malpractice against a hospital facility.  No agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions, nor any counsel, insurance company or other representative acting on behalf of such agency, shall approve, accept or enter into any settlement of any such suit, arbitration or proceeding if the settlement provides that its terms and conditions shall be confidential, except in an action for medical malpractice against a hospital facility.  No settlement document sealed under subsection (b) of this section shall be open for public inspection.

(b)        No judge, administrative judge or administrative hearing officer of this State, nor any board or commission, nor any arbitrator appointed pursuant to the laws of North Carolina, shall order or permit the sealing of any settlement document in any proceeding described herein except on the basis of a written order concluding that (1) the presumption of openness is overcome by an overriding interest and (2) that such overriding interest cannot be protected by any measure short of sealing the settlement.  Such order shall articulate the overriding interest and shall include findings of fact that are sufficiently specific to permit a reviewing court to determine whether the order was proper.

(c)        Except for confidential communications as provided in G.S. 132-1.1, the term "settlement documents," as used herein, shall include all documents which reflect, or which are made or utilized in connection with, the terms and conditions upon which any proceedings described in this section are compromised, settled, terminated or dismissed, including but not limited to correspondence, settlement agreements, consent orders, checks, and bank drafts. (1989, c. 326.)

 

§ 132-1.4.  Criminal investigations; intelligence information records; Innocence Inquiry Commission records.

(a)        Records of criminal investigations conducted by public law enforcement agencies, records of criminal intelligence information compiled by public law enforcement agencies, and records of investigations conducted by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, are not public records as defined by G.S. 132-1. Records of criminal investigations conducted by public law enforcement agencies or records of criminal intelligence information may be released by order of a court of competent jurisdiction.

(b)        As used in this section:

(1)        "Records of criminal investigations" means all records or any information that pertains to a person or group of persons that is compiled by public law enforcement agencies for the purpose of attempting to prevent or solve violations of the law, including information derived from witnesses, laboratory tests, surveillance, investigators, confidential informants, photographs, and measurements. The term also includes any records, worksheets, reports, or analyses prepared or conducted by the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory at the request of any public law enforcement agency in connection with a criminal investigation.

(2)        "Records of criminal intelligence information" means records or information that pertain to a person or group of persons that is compiled by a public law enforcement agency in an effort to anticipate, prevent, or monitor possible violations of the law.

(3)        "Public law enforcement agency" means a municipal police department, a county police department, a sheriff's department, a company police agency commissioned by the Attorney General pursuant to G.S. 74E-1, et seq., and any State or local agency, force, department, or unit responsible for investigating, preventing, or solving violations of the law.

(4)        "Violations of the law" means crimes and offenses that are prosecutable in the criminal courts in this State or the United States and infractions as defined in G.S. 14-3.1.

(5)        "Complaining witness" means an alleged victim or other person who reports a violation or apparent violation of the law to a public law enforcement agency.

(c)        Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, and unless otherwise prohibited by law, the following information shall be public records within the meaning of G.S. 132-1.

(1)        The time, date, location, and nature of a violation or apparent violation of the law reported to a public law enforcement agency.

(2)        The name, sex, age, address, employment, and alleged violation of law of a person arrested, charged, or indicted.

(3)        The circumstances surrounding an arrest, including the time and place of the arrest, whether the arrest involved resistance, possession or use of weapons, or pursuit, and a description of any items seized in connection with the arrest.

(4)        The contents of "911" and other emergency telephone calls received by or on behalf of public law enforcement agencies, except for such contents that reveal the natural voice, name, address, telephone number, or other information that may identify the caller, victim, or witness. In order to protect the identity of the complaining witness, the contents of "911" and other emergency telephone calls may be released pursuant to this section in the form of a written transcript or altered voice reproduction; provided that the original shall be provided under process to be used as evidence in any relevant civil or criminal proceeding.

(5)        The contents of communications between or among employees of public law enforcement agencies that are broadcast over the public airways.

(6)        The name, sex, age, and address of a complaining witness.

(d)       A public law enforcement agency shall temporarily withhold the name or address of a complaining witness if release of the information is reasonably likely to pose a threat to the mental health, physical health, or personal safety of the complaining witness or materially compromise a continuing or future criminal investigation or criminal intelligence operation. Information temporarily withheld under this subsection shall be made available for release to the public in accordance with G.S. 132-6 as soon as the circumstances that justify withholding it cease to exist. Any person denied access to information withheld under this subsection may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction for an order compelling disclosure of the information. In such action, the court shall balance the interests of the public in disclosure against the interests of the law enforcement agency and the alleged victim in withholding the information. Actions brought pursuant to this subsection shall be set down for immediate hearing, and subsequent proceedings in such actions shall be accorded priority by the trial and appellate courts.

(e)        If a public law enforcement agency believes that release of information that is a public record under subdivisions (c)(1) through (c)(5) of this section will jeopardize the right of the State to prosecute a defendant or the right of a defendant to receive a fair trial or will undermine an ongoing or future investigation, it may seek an order from a court of competent jurisdiction to prevent disclosure of the information. In such action the law enforcement agency shall have the burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that disclosure of the information in question will jeopardize the right of the State to prosecute a defendant or the right of a defendant to receive a fair trial or will undermine an ongoing or future investigation. Actions brought pursuant to this subsection shall be set down for immediate hearing, and subsequent proceedings in such actions shall be accorded priority by the trial and appellate courts.

(f)        Nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing any public law enforcement agency to prohibit or prevent another public agency having custody of a public record from permitting the inspection, examination, or copying of such public record in compliance with G.S. 132-6. The use of a public record in connection with a criminal investigation or the gathering of criminal intelligence shall not affect its status as a public record.

(g)        Disclosure of records of criminal investigations and criminal intelligence information that have been transmitted to a district attorney or other attorney authorized to prosecute a violation of law shall be governed by this section and Chapter 15A of the General Statutes.

(h)        Nothing in this section shall be construed as requiring law enforcement agencies to disclose the following:

(1)        Information that would not be required to be disclosed under Chapter 15A of the General Statutes; or

(2)        Information that is reasonably likely to identify a confidential informant.

(i)         Law enforcement agencies shall not be required to maintain any tape recordings of "911" or other communications for more than 30 days from the time of the call, unless a court of competent jurisdiction orders a portion sealed.

(j)         When information that is not a public record under the provisions of this section is deleted from a document, tape recording, or other record, the law enforcement agency shall make clear that a deletion has been made. Nothing in this subsection shall authorize the destruction of the original record.

(k)        The following court records are public records and may be withheld only when sealed by court order: arrest and search warrants that have been returned by law enforcement agencies, indictments, criminal summons, and nontestimonial identification orders.

(l)         Records of investigations of alleged child abuse shall be governed by Article 29 of Chapter 7B of the General Statutes.  (1993, c. 461, s. 1; 1998-202, s. 13(jj); 2006-184, s. 7; 2010-171, s. 5; 2011-321, s. 1; 2013-360, s. 17.6(o).)

 

§ 132-1.5.  911 database.

Automatic number identification and automatic location identification information that consists of the name, address, and telephone numbers of telephone subscribers, or the e-mail addresses of subscribers to an electronic emergency notification or reverse 911 system, that is contained in a county or municipal 911 database, or in a county or municipal telephonic or electronic emergency notification or reverse 911 system, is confidential and is not a public record as defined by Chapter 132 of the General Statutes if that information is required to be confidential by the agreement with the telephone company by which the information was obtained. Dissemination of the information contained in the 911, electronic emergency notification or reverse 911 system, or automatic number and automatic location database is prohibited except on a call-by-call basis only for the purpose of handling emergency calls or for training, and any permanent record of the information shall be secured by the public safety answering points and disposed of in a manner which will retain that security except as otherwise required by applicable law. (1997-287, s. 1; 2007-107, s. 3.2(a).)

 

§ 132-1.6.  Emergency response plans.

Emergency response plans adopted by a constituent institution of The University of North Carolina, a community college, or a public hospital as defined in G.S. 159-39 and the records related to the planning and development of these emergency response plans are not public records as defined by G.S. 132-1 and shall not be subject to inspection and examination under G.S. 132-6. (2001-500, s. 3.1.)

 

§ 132-1.7.  Sensitive public security information.

(a)        Public records, as defined in G.S. 132-1, shall not include information containing specific details of public security plans and arrangements or the detailed plans and drawings of public buildings and infrastructure facilities.

(b)        Public records as defined in G.S. 132-1 do not include plans to prevent or respond to terrorist activity, to the extent such records set forth vulnerability and risk assessments, potential targets, specific tactics, or specific security or emergency procedures, the disclosure of which would jeopardize the safety of governmental personnel or the general public or the security of any governmental facility, building, structure, or information storage system.

(c)        Information relating to the general adoption of public security plans and arrangements, and budgetary information concerning the authorization or expenditure of public funds to implement public security plans and arrangements, or for the construction, renovation, or repair of public buildings and infrastructure facilities shall be public records. (2001-516, s. 3; 2003-180, s. 1.)

 

§ 132-1.8.  Confidentiality of photographs and video or audio recordings made pursuant to autopsy.

Except as otherwise provided in G.S. 130A-389.1, a photograph or video or audio recording of an official autopsy is not a public record as defined by G.S. 132-1. However, the text of an official autopsy report, including any findings and interpretations prepared in accordance with G.S. 130A-389(a), is a public record and fully accessible by the public. For purposes of this section, an official autopsy is an autopsy performed pursuant to G.S. 130A-389(a). (2005-393, s. 1.)

 

§ 132-1.9.  Trial preparation materials.

(a)        Scope. - A request to inspect, examine, or copy a public record that is also trial preparation material is governed by this section, and, to the extent this section conflicts with any other provision of law, this section applies.

(b)        Right to Deny Access. - Except as otherwise provided in this section, a custodian may deny access to a public record that is also trial preparation material. If the denial is based on an assertion that the public record is trial preparation material that was prepared in anticipation of a legal proceeding that has not commenced, the custodian shall, upon request, provide a written justification for the assertion that the public record was prepared in anticipation of a legal proceeding.

(c)        Trial Preparation Material Prepared in Anticipation of a Legal Proceeding. - Any person who is denied access to a public record that is also claimed to be trial preparation material that was prepared in anticipation of a legal proceeding that has not yet been commenced may petition the court pursuant to G.S. 132-9 for determination as to whether the public record is trial preparation material that was prepared in anticipation of a legal proceeding.

(d)       During a Legal Proceeding. -

(1)        When a legal proceeding is subject to G.S. 1A-1, Rule 26(b)(3), or subject to Rule 26(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party to the pending legal proceeding, including any appeals and postjudgment proceedings, who is denied access to a public record that is also claimed to be trial preparation material that pertains to the pending proceeding may seek access to such record only by motion made in the pending legal proceeding and pursuant to the procedural and substantive standards that apply to that proceeding. A party to the pending legal proceeding may not directly or indirectly commence a separate proceeding for release of such record pursuant to G.S. 132-9 in any other court or tribunal.

(2)        When a legal proceeding is not subject to G.S. 1A-1, Rule 26(b)(3), and not subject to Rule 26(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party to the pending legal proceeding, including any appeals and postjudgment proceedings, who is denied access to a public record that is also claimed to be trial preparation material that pertains to the pending legal proceeding may petition the court pursuant to G.S. 132-9 for access to such record. In determining whether to require the custodian to provide access to all or any portion of the record, the court or other tribunal shall apply the provisions of G.S. 1A-1, Rule 26(b)(3).

(3)        Any person who is denied access to a public record that is also claimed to be trial preparation material and who is not a party to the pending legal proceeding to which such record pertains, and who is not acting in concert with or as an agent for any party to the pending legal proceeding, may petition the court pursuant to G.S. 132-9 for a determination as to whether the public record is trial preparation material.

(e)        Following a Legal Proceeding. - Upon the conclusion of a legal proceeding, including the completion of all appeals and postjudgment proceedings, or, in the case where no legal proceeding has been commenced, upon the expiration of all applicable statutes of limitations and periods of repose, the custodian of a public record that is also claimed to be trial preparation material shall permit the inspection, examination, or copying of such record if any law that is applicable so provides.

(f)        Effect of Disclosure. - Disclosure pursuant to this section of all or any portion of a public record that is also trial preparation material, whether voluntary or pursuant to an order issued by a court, or issued by an officer in an administrative or quasi-judicial legal proceeding, shall not constitute a waiver of the right to claim that any other document or record constitutes trial preparation material.

(g)        Trial Preparation Materials That Are Not Public Records. - This section does not require disclosure, or authorize a court to require disclosure, of trial preparation material that is not also a public record or that is under other provisions of this Chapter exempted or protected from disclosure by law or by an order issued by a court, or by an officer in an administrative or quasi-judicial legal proceeding.

(h)        Definitions. - As used in this section, the following definitions apply:

(1)        Legal proceeding. - Civil proceedings in any federal or State court. Legal proceeding also includes any federal, State, or local government administrative or quasi-judicial proceeding that is not expressly subject to the provisions of Chapter 1A of the General Statutes or the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

(2)        Trial preparation material. - Any record, wherever located and in whatever form, that is trial preparation material within the meaning of G.S. 1A-1, Rule 26(b)(3), any comparable material prepared for any other legal proceeding, and any comparable material exchanged pursuant to a joint defense, joint prosecution, or joint interest agreement in connection with any pending or anticipated legal proceeding. (2005-332, s. 1; 2005-414, s. 4.)

 

§ 132-1.10.  Social security numbers and other personal identifying information.

(a)        The General Assembly finds the following:

(1)        The social security number can be used as a tool to perpetuate fraud against a person and to acquire sensitive personal, financial, medical, and familial information, the release of which could cause great financial or personal harm to an individual. While the social security number was intended to be used solely for the administration of the federal Social Security System, over time this unique numeric identifier has been used extensively for identity verification purposes and other legitimate consensual purposes.

(2)        Although there are legitimate reasons for State and local government agencies to collect social security numbers and other personal identifying information from individuals, government should collect the information only for legitimate purposes or when required by law.

(3)        When State and local government agencies possess social security numbers or other personal identifying information, the governments should minimize the instances this information is disseminated either internally within government or externally with the general public.

(b)        Except as provided in subsections (c) and (d) of this section, no agency of the State or its political subdivisions, or any agent or employee of a government agency, shall do any of the following:

(1)        Collect a social security number from an individual unless authorized by law to do so or unless the collection of the social security number is otherwise imperative for the performance of that agency's duties and responsibilities as prescribed by law. Social security numbers collected by an agency must be relevant to the purpose for which collected and shall not be collected until and unless the need for social security numbers has been clearly documented.

(2)        Fail, when collecting a social security number from an individual, to segregate that number on a separate page from the rest of the record, or as otherwise appropriate, in order that the social security number can be more easily redacted pursuant to a valid public records request.

(3)        Fail, when collecting a social security number from an individual, to provide, at the time of or prior to the actual collection of the social security number by that agency, that individual, upon request, with a statement of the purpose or purposes for which the social security number is being collected and used.

(4)        Use the social security number for any purpose other than the purpose stated.

(5)        (For applicability date - See Editor's note) Intentionally communicate or otherwise make available to the general public a person's social security number or other identifying information. "Identifying information", as used in this subdivision, shall have the same meaning as in G.S. 14-113.20(b), except it shall not include electronic identification numbers, electronic mail names or addresses, Internet account numbers, Internet identification names, parent's legal surname prior to marriage, or drivers license numbers appearing on law enforcement records. Identifying information shall be confidential and not be a public record under this Chapter. A record, with identifying information removed or redacted, is a public record if it would otherwise be a public record under this Chapter but for the identifying information. The presence of identifying information in a public record does not change the nature of the public record. If all other public records requirements are met under this Chapter, the agency of the State or its political subdivisions shall respond to a public records request, even if the records contain identifying information, as promptly as possible, by providing the public record with the identifying information removed or redacted.

(6)        Intentionally print or imbed an individual's social security number on any card required for the individual to access government services.

(7)        Require an individual to transmit the individual's social security number over the Internet, unless the connection is secure or the social security number is encrypted.

(8)        Require an individual to use the individual's social security number to access an Internet Web site, unless a password or unique personal identification number or other authentication device is also required to access the Internet Web site.

(9)        Print an individual's social security number on any materials that are mailed to the individual, unless state or federal law required that the social security number be on the document to be mailed. A social security number that is permitted to be mailed under this subdivision may not be printed, in whole or in part, on a postcard or other mailer not requiring an envelope, or visible on the envelope or without the envelope having been opened.

(c)        Subsection (b) of this section does not apply in the following circumstances:

(1)        To social security numbers or other identifying information disclosed to another governmental entity or its agents, employees, or contractors if disclosure is necessary for the receiving entity to perform its duties and responsibilities. The receiving governmental entity and its agents, employees, and contractors shall maintain the confidential and exempt status of such numbers.

(2)        To social security numbers or other identifying information disclosed pursuant to a court order, warrant, or subpoena.

(3)        To social security numbers or other identifying information disclosed for public health purposes pursuant to and in compliance with Chapter 130A of the General Statutes.

(4)        To social security numbers or other identifying information that have been redacted.

(5)        To certified copies of vital records issued by the State Registrar and other authorized officials pursuant to G.S. 130A-93(c). The State Registrar may disclose any identifying information other than social security numbers on any uncertified vital record.

(6)        To any recorded document in the official records of the register of deeds of the county.

(7)        To any document filed in the official records of the courts.

(c1)      If an agency of the State or its political subdivisions, or any agent or employee of a government agency, experiences a security breach, as defined in Article 2A of Chapter 75 of the General Statutes, the agency shall comply with the requirements of G.S. 75-65.

(d)       No person preparing or filing a document to be recorded or filed in the official records of the register of deeds, the Department of the Secretary of State, or of the courts may include any person's social security, employer taxpayer identification, drivers license, state identification, passport, checking account, savings account, credit card, or debit card number, or personal identification (PIN) code or passwords in that document, unless otherwise expressly required by law or court order, adopted by the State Registrar on records of vital events, or redacted. Any loan closing instruction that requires the inclusion of a person's social security number on a document to be recorded shall be void. Any person who violates this subsection shall be guilty of an infraction, punishable by a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00) for each violation.

(e)        The validity of an instrument as between the parties to the instrument is not affected by the inclusion of personal information on a document recorded or filed with the official records of the register of deeds or the Department of the Secretary of State. The register of deeds or the Department of the Secretary of State may not reject an instrument presented for recording because the instrument contains an individual's personal information.

(f)        Any person has the right to request that a register of deeds or clerk of court remove, from an image or copy of an official record placed on a register of deeds' or court's Internet Website available to the general public or an Internet Web site available to the general public used by a register of deeds or court to display public records by the register of deeds or clerk of court, the person's social security, employer taxpayer identification, drivers license, state identification, passport, checking account, savings account, credit card, or debit card number, or personal identification (PIN) code or passwords contained in that official record. The request must be made in writing, legibly signed by the requester, and delivered by mail, facsimile, or electronic transmission, or delivered in person to the register of deeds or clerk of court. The request must specify the personal information to be redacted, information that identifies the document that contains the personal information and unique information that identifies the location within the document that contains the social security, employer taxpayer identification, drivers license, state identification, passport, checking account, savings account, credit card, or debit card number, or personal identification (PIN) code or passwords to be redacted. The request for redaction shall be considered a public record with access restricted to the register of deeds, the clerk of court, their staff, or upon order of the court. The register of deeds or clerk of court shall have no duty to inquire beyond the written request to verify the identity of a person requesting redaction and shall have no duty to remove redaction for any reason upon subsequent request by an individual or by order of the court, if impossible to do so. No fee will be charged for the redaction pursuant to such request. Any person who requests a redaction without proper authority to do so shall be guilty of an infraction, punishable by a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00) for each violation.

(f1)      Without a request made pursuant to subsection (f) of this section, a register of deeds or clerk of court may remove from an image or copy of an official record placed on a register of deeds' or clerk of court's Internet Web site available to the general public, or placed on an Internet Web site available to the general public used by a register of deeds or clerk of court to display public records, a person's social security or drivers license number contained in that official record. Registers of deeds and clerks of court may apply optical character recognition technology or other reasonably available technology to official records placed on Internet Web sites available to the general public in order to, in good faith, identify and redact social security and drivers license numbers.

(g)        A register of deeds or clerk of court shall immediately and conspicuously post signs throughout his or her offices for public viewing and shall immediately and conspicuously post a notice on any Internet Web site available to the general public used by a register of deeds or clerk of court a notice stating, in substantially similar form, the following:

(1)        Any person preparing or filing a document for recordation or filing in the official records may not include a social security, employer taxpayer identification, drivers license, state identification, passport, checking account, savings account, credit card, or debit card number, or personal identification (PIN) code or passwords in the document, unless expressly required by law or court order, adopted by the State Registrar on records of vital events, or redacted so that no more than the last four digits of the identification number is included.

(2)        Any person has a right to request a register of deeds or clerk of court to remove, from an image or copy of an official record placed on a register of deeds' or clerk of court's Internet Web site available to the general public or on an Internet Web site available to the general public used by a register of deeds or clerk of court to display public records, any social security, employer taxpayer identification, drivers license, state identification, passport, checking account, savings account, credit card, or debit card number, or personal identification (PIN) code or passwords contained in an official record. The request must be made in writing and delivered by mail, facsimile, or electronic transmission, or delivered in person, to the register of deeds or clerk of court. The request must specify the personal information to be redacted, information that identifies the document that contains the personal information and unique information that identifies the location within the document that contains the social security, employer taxpayer identification, drivers license, state identification, passport, checking account, savings account, credit card, or debit card number, or personal identification (PIN) code or passwords to be redacted. No fee will be charged for the redaction pursuant to such a request. Any person who requests a redaction without proper authority to do so shall be guilty of an infraction, punishable by a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00) for each violation.

(h)        Any affected person may petition the court for an order directing compliance with this section. No liability shall accrue to a register of deeds or clerk of court or to his or her agent for any action related to provisions of this section or for any claims or damages that might result from a social security number or other identifying information on the public record or on a register of deeds' or clerk of court's Internet website available to the general public or an Internet Web site available to the general public used by a register of deeds or clerk of court.  (2005-414, s. 4; 2006-173, ss. 1-7; 2009-355, s. 3.)

 

§ 132-1.11.  Economic development incentives.

(a)        Assumptions and Methodologies. - Subject to the provisions of this Chapter regarding confidential information and the withholding of public records relating to the proposed expansion or location of specific business or industrial projects when the release of those records would frustrate the purpose for which they were created, whenever a public agency or its subdivision performs a cost-benefit analysis or similar assessment with respect to economic development incentives offered to a specific business or industrial project, the agency or its subdivision must describe in detail the assumptions and methodologies used in completing the analysis or assessment. This description is a public record and is subject to all provisions of this Chapter and other law regarding public records.

(b)        Disclosure of Public Records Requirements. - Whenever an agency or its subdivision first proposes, negotiates, or accepts an application for economic development incentives with respect to a specific industrial or business project, the agency or subdivision must disclose that any information obtained by the agency or subdivision is subject to laws regarding disclosure of public records. In addition, the agency or subdivision must fully and accurately describe the instances in which confidential information may be withheld from disclosure, the types of information that qualify as confidential information, and the methods for ensuring that confidential information is not disclosed. (2005-429, s. 1.2.)

 

§ 132-1.11A.  Limited access to identifying information of minors participating in local government programs and programs funded by the North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc., or a local partnership in certain localities.

(a)        A public record, as defined by G.S. 132-1, does not include, as to any minor participating in a program sponsored by a local government or combination of local governments, a program funded by the North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc., under G.S. 143B-168.12, or a program funded by a local partnership under G.S. 143B-168.14, any of the following information as to that minor participant: (i) name, (ii) address, (iii) age, (iv) date of birth, (v) telephone number, (vi) the name or address of that minor participant's parent or legal guardian, (vii) e-mail address, or (viii) any other identifying information on an application to participate in such program or other records related to that program. Notwithstanding this subsection, the name of a minor who has received a scholarship or other local government-funded award of a financial nature from a local government is a public record.

(b)        The county, municipality, and zip code of residence of each participating minor covered by subsection (a) of this section is a public record, with the information listed in subsection (a) of this section redacted.

(c)        Nothing in this section makes the information listed in subsection (a) of this section confidential information.

(d)       This section applies to the County of Chatham, the Towns of Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Morrisville, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell, and Zebulon, and the City of Raleigh only.  (2008-126, s. 1; 2012-67, s. 1; 2012-139, s. 1(a), (b); 2012-194, s. 70.5(a), (c).)

 

§ 132-1.12.  Limited access to identifying information of minors participating in local government parks and recreation programs and programs funded by the North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc., or a local partnership in other localities.

(a)        A public record, as defined by G.S. 132-1, does not include, as to any minor participating in a park or recreation program sponsored by a local government or combination of local governments, a program funded by the North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc., under G.S. 143B-168.12, or a program funded by a local partnership under G.S. 143B-168.14, any of the following information as to that minor participant: (i) name, (ii) address, (iii) age, (iv) date of birth, (v) telephone number, (vi) the name or address of that minor participant's parent or legal guardian, or (vii) any other identifying information on an application to participate in such program or other records related to that program.

(b)        The county, municipality, and zip code of residence of each participating minor covered by subsection (a) of this section is a public record, with the information listed in subsection (a) of this section redacted.

(c)        Nothing in this section makes the information listed in subsection (a) of this section confidential information.  (2008-126, s. 1; 2012-67, s. 1.)

 

§ 132-1.13.  Electronic lists of subscribers open for inspection but not available for copying.

(a)        Notwithstanding this chapter, when a unit of local government maintains an electronic mail list of individual subscribers, this chapter does not require that unit of local government to provide a copy of the list. The list shall be available for public inspection in either printed or electronic format or both as the unit of local government elects.

(b)        If a unit of local government maintains an electronic mail list of individual subscribers, the unit of local government and its employees and officers may use that list only: (i) for the purpose for which it was subscribed to; (ii) to notify subscribers of an emergency to the public health or public safety; or (iii) in case of deletion of that list, to notify subscribers of the existence of any similar lists to subscribe to.

(c)        Repealed by Session Laws 2011-54, s. 1, effective April 28, 2011.  (2010-83, ss. 1-3; 2011-54, s. 1.)

 

§ 132-1.14: Reserved for future codification purposes.

 

§ 132-1.15: Reserved for future codification purposes.

 

§ 132-1.16: Reserved for future codification purposes.

 

§ 132-1.17: Reserved for future codification purposes.

 

§ 132-1.18: Reserved for future codification purposes.

 

§ 132-1.19: Reserved for future codification purposes.

 

§ 132-1.20: Reserved for future codification purposes.

 

§ 132-1.21: Reserved for future codification purposes.

 

§ 132-1.22: Reserved for future codification purposes.

 

§ 132-1.23.  Eugenics program records.

(a)        Records in the custody of the State, including those in the custody of the Office of Justice for Sterilization Victims, concerning the Eugenics Board of North Carolina's program are confidential and are not public records, including the records identifying (i) individuals impacted by the program, (ii) individuals, or their guardians or authorized agents, inquiring about the impact of the program on the individuals, or (iii) individuals, or their guardians or authorized agents, inquiring about the potential impact of the program on others.

(b)        Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, an individual impacted by the program, or a guardian or authorized agent of that individual, may obtain that individual's records under the program upon execution of a proper release authorization.

(c)        Notwithstanding subsections (a) and (b) of this section, minutes or reports of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina, for which identifying information of the individuals impacted by the program have been redacted, may be released to any person. As used in this subsection, "identifying information" shall include the name, street address, birth day and month, and any other information the State believes may lead to the identity of any individual impacted by the program, or of any relative of an individual impacted by the program.  (2011-188, s. 1; 2013-360, s. 6.18(c).)

 

§ 132-2.  Custodian designated.

The public official in charge of an office having public records shall be the custodian thereof. (1935, c. 265, s. 2.)

 

§ 132-3.  Destruction of records regulated.

(a)        Prohibition. - No public official may destroy, sell, loan, or otherwise dispose of any public record, except in accordance with G.S. 121-5 and G.S. 130A-99, without the consent of the Department of Cultural Resources. Whoever unlawfully removes a public record from the office where it is usually kept, or alters, defaces, mutilates or destroys it shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor and upon conviction only fined not less than ten dollars ($10.00) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500.00).

(b)        Revenue Records. - Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section and G.S. 121-5, when a record of the Department of Revenue has been copied in any manner, the original record may be destroyed upon the order of the Secretary of Revenue. If a record of the Department of Revenue has not been copied, the original record shall be preserved for at least three years. After three years the original record may be destroyed upon the order of the Secretary of Revenue.

(c)        Employment Security Records. - Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section and G.S. 121-5, when a record of the Division of Employment Security has been copied in any manner, the original record may be destroyed upon the order of the Division. If a record of that Division has not been copied, the original record shall be preserved for at least three years. After three years the original record may be destroyed upon the order of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce.  (1935, c. 265, s. 3; 1943, c. 237; 1953, c. 675, s. 17; 1957, c. 330, s. 2; 1973, c. 476, s. 48; 1993, c. 485, s. 39; c. 539, s. 966; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 1997-309, s. 12; 2001-115, s. 2; 2011-401, s. 3.16.)

 

§ 132-4.  Disposition of records at end of official's term.

Whoever has the custody of any public records shall, at the expiration of his term of office, deliver to his successor, or, if there be none, to the Department of Cultural Resources, all records, books, writings, letters and documents kept or received by him in the transaction of his official business; and any such person who shall refuse or neglect for the space of 10 days after request made in writing by any citizen of the State to deliver as herein required such public records to the person authorized to receive them shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. (1935, c. 265, s. 4; 1943, c. 237; 1973, c. 476, s. 48; 1975, c. 696, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, s. 967; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).)

 

§ 132-5.  Demanding custody.

Whoever is entitled to the custody of public records shall demand them from any person having illegal possession of them, who shall forthwith deliver the same to him.  If the person who unlawfully possesses public records shall without just cause refuse or neglect for 10 days after a request made in writing by any citizen of the State to deliver such records to their lawful custodian, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. (1935, c. 265, s. 5; 1975, c. 696, s. 2; 1993, c. 539, s. 968; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).)

 

§ 132-5.1.  Regaining custody; civil remedies.

(a)        The Secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources or his designated representative or any public official who is the custodian of public records which are in the possession of a person or agency not authorized by the custodian or by law to possess such public records may petition the superior court in the county in which the person holding such records resides or in which the materials in issue, or any part thereof, are located for the return of such public records. The court may order such public records to be delivered to the petitioner upon finding that the materials in issue are public records and that such public records are in the possession of a person not authorized by the custodian of the public records or by law to possess such public records. If the order of delivery does not receive compliance, the petitioner may request that the court enforce such order through its contempt power and procedures.

(b)        At any time after the filing of the petition set out in subsection (a) or contemporaneous with such filing, the public official seeking the return of the public records may by ex parte petition request the judge or the court in which the action was filed to grant one of the following provisional remedies:

(1)        An order directed at the sheriff commanding him to seize the materials which are the subject of the action and deliver the same to the court under the circumstances hereinafter set forth; or

(2)        A preliminary injunction preventing the sale, removal, disposal or destruction of or damage to such public records pending a final judgment by the court.

(c)        The judge or court aforesaid shall issue an order of seizure  or grant a preliminary injunction upon receipt of an affidavit from the petitioner which alleges that the materials at issue are public records and that unless one of said provisional remedies is granted, there is a danger that such materials shall be sold, secreted, removed out of the State or otherwise disposed of so as not to be forthcoming to answer the final judgment of the court respecting the same; or that such property may be destroyed or materially damaged or injured if not seized or if injunctive relief is not granted.

(d)       The aforementioned order of seizure or preliminary injunction shall issue without notice to the respondent and without the posting of any bond or other security by the petitioner. (1975, c. 787, s. 2.)

 

§ 132-6.  Inspection and examination of records.

(a)        Every custodian of public records shall permit any record in the custodian's custody to be inspected and examined at reasonable times and under reasonable supervision by any person, and shall, as promptly as possible, furnish copies thereof upon payment of any fees as may be prescribed by law. As used herein, "custodian" does not mean an agency that holds the public records of other agencies solely for purposes of storage or safekeeping or solely to provide data processing.

(b)        No person requesting to inspect and examine public records, or to obtain copies thereof, shall be required to disclose the purpose or motive for the request.

(c)        No request to inspect, examine, or obtain copies of public records shall be denied on the grounds that confidential information is commingled with the requested nonconfidential information. If it is necessary to separate confidential from nonconfidential information in order to permit the inspection, examination, or copying of the public records, the public agency shall bear the cost of such separation on the following schedule:

State agencies after June 30, 1996;

Municipalities with populations of 10,000 or more, counties with populations of 25,000 or more, as determined by the 1990 U.S. Census, and public hospitals in those counties, after June 30, 1997;

Municipalities with populations of less than 10,000, counties with populations of less than 25,000, as determined by the 1990 U.S. Census, and public hospitals in those counties, after June 30, 1998;

Political subdivisions and their agencies that are not otherwise covered by this schedule, after June 30, 1998.

(d)       Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) and (b) of this section, public records relating to the proposed expansion or location of specific business or industrial projects may be withheld so long as their inspection, examination or copying would frustrate the purpose for which such public records were created; provided, however, that nothing herein shall be construed to permit the withholding of public records relating to general economic development policies or activities. Once the State, a local government, or the specific business has announced a commitment by the business to expand or locate a specific project in this State or a final decision not to do so and the business has communicated that commitment or decision to the State or local government agency involved with the project, the provisions of this subsection allowing public records to be withheld by the agency no longer apply. Once the provisions of this subsection no longer apply, the agency shall disclose as soon as practicable, and within 25 business days, public records requested for the announced project that are not otherwise made confidential by law. An announcement that a business or industrial project has committed to expand or locate in the State shall not require disclosure of local government records relating to the project if the business has not selected a specific location within the State for the project. Once a specific location for the project has been determined, local government records must be disclosed, upon request, in accordance with the provisions of this section. For purposes of this section, "local government records" include records maintained by the State that relate to a local government's efforts to attract the project.

(e)        The application of this Chapter is subject to the provisions of Article 1 of Chapter 121 of the General Statutes, the North Carolina Archives and History Act.

(f)        Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, the inspection or copying of any public record which, because of its age or condition could be damaged during inspection or copying, may be made subject to reasonable restrictions intended to preserve the particular record. (1935, c. 265, s. 6; 1987, c. 835, s. 1; 1995, c. 388, s. 2; 2005-429, s. 1.1.)

 

§ 132-6.1.  Electronic data-processing records.

(a)        After June 30, 1996, no public agency shall purchase, lease, create, or otherwise acquire any electronic data-processing system for the storage, manipulation, or retrieval of public records unless it first determines that the system will not impair or impede the agency's ability to permit the public inspection and examination, and to provide electronic copies of such records. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to require the retention by the public agency of obsolete hardware or software.

(b)        Every public agency shall create an index of computer databases compiled or created by a public agency on the following schedule:

State agencies by July 1, 1996;

Municipalities with populations of 10,000 or more, counties with populations of 25,000 or more, as determined by the 1990 U.S. Census, and public hospitals in those counties, by July 1, 1997;

Municipalities with populations of less than 10,000, counties with populations of less than 25,000, as determined by the 1990 U.S. Census, and public hospitals in those counties, by July 1, 1998;

Political subdivisions and their agencies that are not otherwise covered by this schedule, after June 30, 1998.

The index shall be a public record and shall include, at a minimum, the following information with respect to each database listed therein: a list of the data fields; a description of the format or record layout; information as to the frequency with which the database is updated; a list of any data fields to which public access is restricted; a description of each form in which the database can be copied or reproduced using the agency's computer facilities; and a schedule of fees for the production of copies in each available form. Electronic databases compiled or created prior to the date by which the index must be created in accordance with this subsection may be indexed at the public agency's option. The form, content, language, and guidelines for the index and the databases to be indexed shall be developed by the Office of Archives and History in consultation with officials at other public agencies.

(c)        Nothing in this section shall require a public agency to create a computer database that the public agency has not otherwise created or is not otherwise required to be created. Nothing in this section requires a public agency to disclose security features of its electronic data processing systems, information technology systems, telecommunications networks, or electronic security systems, including hardware or software security, passwords, or security standards, procedures, processes, configurations, software, and codes.

(d)       The following definitions apply in this section:

(1)        Computer database. - A structured collection of data or documents residing in a database management program or spreadsheet software.

(2)        Computer hardware. - Any tangible machine or device utilized for the electronic storage, manipulation, or retrieval of data.

(3)        Computer program. - A series of instructions or statements that permit the storage, manipulation, and retrieval of data within an electronic data-processing system, together with any associated documentation. The term does not include the original data, or any analysis, compilation, or manipulated form of the original data produced by the use of the program or software.

(4)        Computer software. - Any set or combination of computer programs. The term does not include the original data, or any analysis, compilation, or manipulated form of the original data produced by the use of the program or software.

(5)        Electronic data-processing system. - Computer hardware, computer software, or computer programs or any combination thereof, regardless of kind or origin. (1995, c. 388, s. 3; 2000-71, s. 1; 2002-159, s. 35(i).)

 

§ 132-6.2.  Provisions for copies of public records; fees.

(a)        Persons requesting copies of public records may elect to obtain them in any and all media in which the public agency is capable of providing them. No request for copies of public records in a particular medium shall be denied on the grounds that the custodian has made or prefers to make the public records available in another medium. The public agency may assess different fees for different media as prescribed by law.

(b)        Persons requesting copies of public records may request that the copies be certified or uncertified. The fees for certifying copies of public records shall be as provided by law. Except as otherwise provided by law, no public agency shall charge a fee for an uncertified copy of a public record that exceeds the actual cost to the public agency of making the copy. For purposes of this subsection, "actual cost" is limited to direct, chargeable costs related to the reproduction of a public record as determined by generally accepted accounting principles and does not include costs that would have been incurred by the public agency if a request to reproduce a public record had not been made. Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, if the request is such as to require extensive use of information technology resources or extensive clerical or supervisory assistance by personnel of the agency involved, or if producing the record in the medium requested results in a greater use of information technology resources than that established by the agency for reproduction of the volume of information requested, then the agency may charge, in addition to the actual cost of duplication, a special service charge, which shall be reasonable and shall be based on the actual cost incurred for such extensive use of information technology resources or the labor costs of the personnel providing the services, or for a greater use of information technology resources that is actually incurred by the agency or attributable to the agency. If anyone requesting public information from any public agency is charged a fee that the requester believes to be unfair or unreasonable, the requester may ask the State Chief Information Officer or his designee to mediate the dispute.

(c)        Persons requesting copies of computer databases may be required to make or submit such requests in writing. Custodians of public records shall respond to all such requests as promptly as possible. If the request is granted, the copies shall be provided as soon as reasonably possible. If the request is denied, the denial shall be accompanied by an explanation of the basis for the denial. If asked to do so, the person denying the request shall, as promptly as possible, reduce the explanation for the denial to writing.

(d)       Nothing in this section shall be construed to require a public agency to respond to requests for copies of public records outside of its usual business hours.

(e)        Nothing in this section shall be construed to require a public agency to respond to a request for a copy of a public record by creating or compiling a record that does not exist. If a public agency, as a service to the requester, voluntarily elects to create or compile a record, it may negotiate a reasonable charge for the service with the requester. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require a public agency to put into electronic medium a record that is not kept in electronic medium. (1995, c. 388, s. 3; 2004-129, s. 38.)

 

§ 132-7.  Keeping records in safe places; copying or repairing; certified copies.

Insofar as possible, custodians of public records shall keep them in fireproof safes, vaults, or rooms fitted with noncombustible materials and in such arrangement as to be easily accessible for convenient use. All public records should be kept in the buildings in which they are ordinarily used. Record books should be copied or repaired, renovated or rebound if worn, mutilated, damaged or difficult to read. Whenever any State, county, or municipal records are in need of repair, restoration, or rebinding, the head of such State agency, department, board, or commission, the board of county commissioners of such county, or the governing body of such municipality may authorize that the records in need of repair, restoration, or rebinding be removed from the building or office in which such records are ordinarily kept, for the length of time required to repair, restore, or rebind them. Any public official who causes a record book to be copied shall attest it and shall certify on oath that it is an accurate copy of the original book. The copy shall then have the force of the original. (1935, c. 265, s. 7; 1951, c. 294.)

 

§ 132-8.  Assistance by and to Department of Cultural Resources.

The Department of Cultural Resources shall have the right to examine into the condition of public records and shall give advice and assistance to public officials in the solution of their problems of preserving, filing and making available the public records in their custody. When requested by the Department of Cultural Resources, public officials shall assist the Department in the preparation of an inclusive inventory of records in their custody, to which shall be attached a schedule, approved by the head of the governmental unit or  agency having custody of the records and the Secretary of Cultural Resources, establishing a time period for the retention or disposal of each series of records. Upon the completion of the inventory and schedule, the Department of Cultural Resources shall (subject to the availability of necessary space, staff, and other facilities for such purposes) make available space in its Records Center for the filing of semicurrent records so scheduled and in its archives for noncurrent records of permanent value, and shall render such other assistance as needed, including the microfilming of records so scheduled. (1935, c. 265, s. 8; 1943, c. 237; 1959, c. 68, s. 2; 1973, c. 476, s. 48.)

 

§ 132-8.1.  Records management program administered by Department of Cultural Resources; establishment of standards, procedures, etc.; surveys.

A records management program for the application of efficient and economical management methods to the creation, utilization, maintenance, retention, preservation, and disposal of official records shall be administered by the Department of Cultural Resources. It shall be the duty of that Department, in cooperation with and with the approval of the Department of Administration, to establish standards, procedures, and techniques for effective management of public records, to make continuing surveys of paper work operations, and to recommend improvements in current records management practices including the use of space, equipment, and supplies employed in creating, maintaining, and servicing records. It shall be the duty of the head of each State agency and the governing body of each county, municipality and other subdivision of government to cooperate with the Department of Cultural Resources in conducting surveys and to establish and maintain an active, continuing program for the economical and efficient management of the records of said agency, county, municipality, or other subdivision of government. (1961, c. 1041; 1973, c. 476, s. 48.)

 

§ 132-8.2.  Selection and preservation of records considered essential; making or designation of preservation duplicates; force and effect of duplicates or copies thereof.

In cooperation with the head of each State agency and the governing body of each county, municipality, and other subdivision of government, the Department of Cultural Resources shall establish and maintain a program for the selection and preservation of public records considered essential to the operation of government and to the protection of the rights and interests of persons, and, within the limitations of funds available for the purpose, shall make or cause to be made preservation duplicates or designate as preservation duplicates existing copies of such essential public records. Preservation duplicates shall be durable, accurate, complete and clear, and such duplicates made by a photographic, photostatic, microfilm, micro card, miniature photographic, or other process which accurately reproduces and forms a durable medium for so reproducing the original shall have the same force and effect for all purposes as the original record whether the original record is in existence or not. A transcript, exemplification, or certified copy of such preservation duplicate shall be deemed for all purposes to be a transcript, exemplification, or certified copy of the original record. Such preservation duplicates shall be preserved in the place and manner of safekeeping prescribed by the Department of Cultural Resources. (1961, c. 1041; 1973, c. 476, s. 48.)

 

§ 132-9.  Access to records.

(a)        Any person who is denied access to public records for purposes of inspection and examination, or who is denied copies of public records, may apply to the appropriate division of the General Court of Justice for an order compelling disclosure or copying, and the court shall have jurisdiction to issue such orders if the person has complied with G.S. 7A-38.3E. Actions brought pursuant to this section shall be set down for immediate hearing, and subsequent proceedings in such actions shall be accorded priority by the trial and appellate courts.

(b)        In an action to compel disclosure of public records which have been withheld pursuant to the provisions of G.S. 132-6 concerning public records relating to the proposed expansion or location of particular businesses and industrial projects, the burden shall be on the custodian withholding the records to show that disclosure would frustrate the purpose of attracting that particular business or industrial project.

(c)        In any action brought pursuant to this section in which a party successfully compels the disclosure of public records, the court shall allow a party seeking disclosure of public records who substantially prevails to recover its reasonable attorneys' fees if attributed to those public records. The court may not assess attorneys' fees against the governmental body or governmental unit if the court finds that the governmental body or governmental unit acted in reasonable reliance on any of the following:

(1)        A judgment or an order of a court applicable to the governmental unit or governmental body.

(2)        The published opinion of an appellate court, an order of the North Carolina Business Court, or a final order of the Trial Division of the General Court of Justice.

(3)        A written opinion, decision, or letter of the Attorney General.

Any attorneys' fees assessed against a public agency under this section shall be charged against the operating expenses of the agency; provided, however, that the court may order that all or any portion of any attorneys' fees so assessed be paid personally by any public employee or public official found by the court to have knowingly or intentionally committed, caused, permitted, suborned, or participated in a violation of this Article. No order against any public employee or public official shall issue in any case where the public employee or public official seeks the advice of an attorney and such advice is followed.

(d)       If the court determines that an action brought pursuant to this section was filed in bad faith or was frivolous, the court shall assess a reasonable attorney's fee against the person or persons instituting the action and award it to the public agency as part of the costs.

(e)        Notwithstanding subsection (c) of this section, the court may not assess attorneys' fees against a public hospital created under Article 2 of Chapter 131E of the General Statutes if the court finds that the action was brought by or on behalf of a competing health care provider for obtaining information to be used to gain a competitive advantage.  (1935, c. 265, s. 9; 1975, c. 787, s. 3; 1987, c. 835, s. 2; 1995, c. 388, s. 4; 2005-332, s. 2; 2010-169, s. 21(c).)

 

§ 132-10.  Qualified exception for geographical information systems.

Geographical information systems databases and data files developed and operated by counties and cities are public records within the meaning of this Chapter. The county or city shall provide public access to such systems by public access terminals or other output devices. Upon request, the county or city shall furnish copies, in documentary or electronic form, to anyone requesting them at reasonable cost. As a condition of furnishing an electronic copy, whether on magnetic tape, magnetic disk, compact disk, or photo-optical device, a county or city may require that the person obtaining the copy agree in writing that the copy will not be resold or otherwise used for trade or commercial purposes. For purposes of this section, publication or broadcast by the news media, real estate trade associations, or Multiple Listing Services operated by real estate trade associations shall not constitute a resale or use of the data for trade or commercial purposes and use of information without resale by a licensed professional in the course of practicing the professional's profession shall not constitute use for a commercial purpose. For purposes of this section, resale at cost by a real estate trade association or Multiple Listing Services operated by a real estate trade association shall not constitute a resale or use of the data for trade or commercial purposes. (1995, c. 388, s. 5; 1997-193, s. 1.)