State Codes and Statutes

State Codes and Statutes

Statutes > North-carolina > Chapter_132 > GS_132-9

§ 132‑9.  Access torecords.

(a)        Any person who isdenied access to public records for purposes of inspection and examination, orwho is denied copies of public records, may apply to the appropriate divisionof the General Court of Justice for an order compelling disclosure or copying,and the court shall have jurisdiction to issue such orders. Actions broughtpursuant to this section shall be set down for immediate hearing, andsubsequent proceedings in such actions shall be accorded priority by the trial andappellate courts.

(b)        In an action tocompel disclosure of public records which have been withheld pursuant to theprovisions of G.S. 132‑6 concerning public records relating to theproposed expansion or location of particular businesses and industrialprojects, the burden shall be on the custodian withholding the records to showthat disclosure would frustrate the purpose of attracting that particularbusiness or industrial project.

(c)        In any actionbrought pursuant to this section in which a party successfully compels thedisclosure of public records, the court shall allow the prevailing party torecover its reasonable attorneys' fees if attributed to those public records,unless the court finds the agency acted with substantial justification in denyingaccess to the public records or the court finds circumstances that would makethe award of attorneys' fees unjust.

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

(d)        If the court determinesthat an action brought pursuant to this section was filed in bad faith or wasfrivolous, the court shall assess a reasonable attorney's fee against theperson or persons instituting the action and award it to the public agency aspart of the costs. (1935,c. 265, s. 9; 1975, c. 787, s. 3; 1987, c. 835, s. 2; 1995, c. 388, s. 4; 2005‑332,s. 2.)