N.C. Supreme Court: Universities Have Right to Withhold Records

ELON, N.C. — With a 3-3 split, the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the North Carolina Court of Appeals decision stating that Elon University’s campus police department — as well as other universities in the state — has the right to withhold records of criminal investigations.

The issue was raised in 2011 after a student journalist requested complete copies of a 2010 arrest and incident report. School officials and campus police provided the student with the arrest report and the first page of the incident report; however, they did not give the journalist access to full documents, The Times-News reports.

In August 2011, Superior Court Judge Michael O’Foghludha granted the university’s motion to dismiss a case, filed by student reporter Nick Ochsner, noting that the Elon University PD had complied with public record laws. The N.C. Court of Appeals upheld that ruling, noting that campus police agencies aren’t public law enforcement agencies.

However, if House Bill 142 receives approval, campus police would have to comply with public records requests, including making arrest records and other investigative records public information.

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