Detroit Free Press, Inc. v. Department of State Police
Michigan Court of Appeals
622 N.W.2d 313 (2000)
The Detroit Free Press, Inc. (plaintiff) filed requests pursuant to Michigan’s open-records law for documents relating to concealed-carry permits issued in Wayne and Ingraham Counties, Michigan. Specifically, the Detroit Free Press sought the names of the concealed-carry permit holders, their occupations, and their reasons for requesting the concealed-carry permits. The respective county clerks and the state police (collectively, the public bodies) (defendants) denied the requests. During the pendency of the public bodies’ review of this matter, the state supreme court issued a decision in a similar case holding that requests for records relating to a private citizen’s gun ownership involved information of a personal nature that was exempt from disclosure under the state open-records law. In response to the decision, the Detroit Free Press limited its request to the concealed-carry information of public officials. The trial court affirmed the public bodies’ denial of the request, asserting that the issuance of a concealed-carry permit was information of a personal nature regardless of an individual’s status as a public official. The Detroit Free Press appealed, arguing that because the topic of gun ownership was highly controversial, raising the public’s awareness of individual legislators’ concealed-carry permits would provide the public with a better understanding of those legislators’ debates regarding guns. The Detroit Free Press further asserted that it was important for the public to know whether certain legislators were treated more favorably than others by gun boards.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Bandstra, C.J.)
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