• 6 minutes

Who Can Request Public Records and What Are They?


Most states say anyone or anyone over 18.

However, in 2013, the United States Supreme Court in McBurney v. Young upheld a Virginia law that limited public records requests to citizens of Virginia. And in Tennessee, “all state, county and municipal records shall . . . be open for personal inspection by any citizen of this state, and those in charge of the records shall not refuse such right of inspection to any citizen, unless otherwise provided by state law.” Tenn. Stat. 10‐7‐503(a)(2)(A). The Deadspin website is actually “crowd‐sourcing” public records requests to comply with “resident‐only” rules, asking people to volunteer to be the requestor in their home states. Watch this video for examples of public records.

Runtime: 5 minutes



Dan Zimmerman

Dan Zimmerman


  • Staff attorney in the New Orleans office of Phelps Dunbar LLP
  • Has litigated numerous public records and government access cases on behalf of news media clients
  • Representing a New Orleans television station, he obtained a ruling that required the city of New Orleans to produce the electronic calendar and emails of then Mayor C. Ray Nagin; prosecutors recently used entries in the calendar as evidence to convict Mr. Nagin on multiple charges of public bribery and corruption
  • J.D. degree, cum laude, Tulane University Law School
  • Can be contacted at 504-584-9365 or [email protected]
Mary Ellen Roy

Mary Ellen Roy


  • Partner in the New Orleans office of Phelps Dunbar LLP
  • Represents book, newspaper, and magazine publishers, television stations and networks, record labels, movie studios, and TV and film production companies throughout the Gulf South in copyright, trademark, misappropriation of likeness, and First Amendment litigation
  • Listed in Chambers USA, The Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers, and IP Stars
  • On behalf of a national hip hop duo, won dismissal of a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by a local musician and obtained an award of attorneys’ fees
  • On behalf of the motion picture studio, won the appellate decision and substantial attorneys’ fees award, holding no inheritable right of publicity in the state
  • On behalf of a national film production company, won dismissal of misappropriation of likeness claims brought by heirs of the subject of motion picture docudrama
  • On behalf of television producers, defeated motion for preliminary injunction to enjoin broadcast of reality series for alleged trademark infringement
  • J.D. degree, cum laude, Harvard Law School
  • Can be contacted at 504-584-9254 or [email protected]

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