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Campbell v. Tennessee Bureau Ofinvestigation

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

March 29, 2017

GEORGE CAMPBELL, JR.
v.
TENNESSEE BUREAU OFINVESTIGATION

          Assigned on Briefs March 1, 2017

         Appeal from the Chancery Court for Wayne County No. 2015-CV-5580 Stella L. Hargrove, Judge

         This appeal involves an inmate/Appellant's petition for the release of public records under the Tennessee Public Records Act. Appellant sought the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's ("TBI") records concerning a criminal investigation. Citing the exemption for TBI investigative records under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 10-7-504(a)(2)(A), the trial court denied Appellant's motion for summary judgment and dismissed his Tennessee Public Records Act petition. Discerning no error, we affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery Court Affirmed and Remanded

          George Campbell, Jr., Mountain City, Tennessee, appellant, pro se.

          Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; Andrée Blumstein, Solicitor General; and Austin Payne, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

          Kenny Armstrong, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Charles D. Susano, Jr. and W. Neal McBrayer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          KENNY ARMSTRONG, JUDGE

         I. Background

         On July 29, 2015, George Campbell, Jr. ("Appellant"), an inmate, sent a letter to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation ("TBI, " or "Appellee") to request public records under the Tennessee Public Records Act ("TPRA"), Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-501, et seq.

          Mr. Campbell sought all records "concerning the death, robbery, police investigation[, and] prosecution… [in the case of] Kevin McConico…." (the "McConico Records"). On August 20, 2015, the TBI responded that the requested documents were part of a TBI investigative file; therefore, the TBI informed Appellant that the requested documents were exempt from disclosure and are accessible only by court order or subpoena.

         On September 16, 2015, Appellant, acting pro se, filed a petition in the Chancery Court for Wayne County ("trial court"), seeking release of the McConico Records under the TPRA. To this end, Appellant argued that the requested TBI records concerned an investigation "more than (twenty-years) 20 years" old, which "has long ago come to its conclusion and… there is no pending litigation concerning this matter." Appellant also sought costs and attorney's fees under the TPRA. On October 22, 2015, Appellee filed its response, seeking dismissal of Appellant's petition for failure to state a claim on the grounds that TBI investigation records are exempt from disclosure under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 10-7-504(a)(2)(A).

         On November 6, 2015, Appellant filed a motion for summary judgment. Appellant attached only a memorandum of law to his motion. On November 20, 2015, Appellee filed its response, opposing Appellant's motion and noting that Appellant's motion for summary judgment was deficient in that it failed to include a statement of undisputed facts. On April 27, 2016, Appellant filed a statement of undisputed facts; Appellee filed its response to the statement of undisputed facts on May 2, 2016. On July 18, 2016, the trial court entered an order denying Appellant's motion for summary judgment and dismissing Appellant's petition, stating:

This matter came before the [c]ourt upon [Appellant's] Motion for Summary Judgment…; [Appellee's] Response to [Appellant's] Motion for Summary Judgment…; [Appellant's] Statement of Undisputed Facts…; and [Appellee's] Response to [Appellant's] Statement for Undisputed Facts…. ...

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