The Tennessean and the state Department of Children’s Services took their public records feud to Davidson County Chancery Court Tuesday morning, but both will have to wait for Chancellor Carol McCoy’s ruling.
The Tennessean and a coalition of other media outlets from across the state have asked DCS to turn over records on child fatalities from 2009 to 2012. But DCS maintains that the state’s records should remain confidential due to laws that prohibit the release of records related to juveniles.
McCoy sympathized with both sides, stating that she is a proponent of the Tennessee Public Records Act but also recognizes the sensitivity of public records pertaining to children.
The DCS gave McCoy four case files of child deaths in order to review what information, if any, may or many not be public. DCS responded to The Tennessean’s original inquiry with brief descriptions and details of child deaths in the first half of 2011. The City Paper reported on the data in October.
The Tennessean’s attorney, Robb Harvey of Waller, argued that Tennessee’s public records law has been noted as one of the broadest. But state deputy attorney general Janet Kleinfelter pointed to numerous state and federal laws that mandated protection of records pertaining to children and DCS proceedings.
McCoy said she would review the documents and make a ruling “expeditiously.”