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The post below was published on Friday, October 15th, 2010 at 2:32 PM.

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Fourth District: Certiorari, Public Records

Is a sheriff’s recording of an inmate’s jailhouse telephone conversation a public record? The Fourth District considered that issue in this case, where a trial court granted news media access to such recordings during a high-profile criminal prosecution. The district court granted a petition for writ of certiorari and quashed the order.

The district court explained that public records are those records made or received pursuant to law or in connection with the transaction of official business. The court held that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office monitored calls for security purposes but that maintaining the recordings had no connection to the sheriff’s official business.

The court’s discussion is interesting and seems to focus more on the recordings’ retention than their creation. The court appeared greatly concerned that arrested persons may expect deputies to monitor their calls but do not expect that any citizen could simply obtain a recording of their conversations by making a public records request.

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