TBI says keeping records private ‘protects’ innocent
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations says it’s helping protect the innocent by not turning over documents to the public, a policy that’s raised some eyebrows among state lawmakers and open government advocates.
Jimmy Musice, the bureau’s senior policy adviser and attorney, fielded questions Thursday from a legislative panel analyzing Tennessee’s open records laws.
Under Tennessee law, TBI’s investigative records are sealed and not releasable to the public unless they have a subpoena or a court order from a judge.
Musice says the bureau is not taking a position on changing the system but added the current practice helps prevent the media from wrongly smearing an official’s name.
Democratic Sen. Jeff Yarbro of Nashville said the rest of the government operates under the assumption all documents are public unless they qualify for an exception.