Mississippi Public Records Act

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The Mississippi Public Records Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Mississippi.

The Mississippi Open Meetings Act legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted.

To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see Mississippi FOIA procedures.

Relevant legal cases

See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA and Mississippi sunshine lawsuits

Here is a list of relevant lawsuits in Mississippi (cases are listed alphabetically; to order them by year, please click the icon to the right of the "year" heading).

Lawsuit Year
Board of Trustees v. Mississippi Publishers Corporation 1985
Citizens for Equal Property Rights v. Board of Supervisors of Lowndes Co. 1998
Clarion-Ledger v. Entergy Mississippi 2005
Delta Democrat Times v. Greenville 1986
Logan v. Mississippi Abstract Co. 1941
Mayor and Aldermen v. Vicksburg Printing & Publishing Co. 1983
Pollard v. State of Mississippi 1967
Roberts v. Mississippi Republican Party State Executive Comm. 1985
Shipman v. North Panola Consolidated School District 1994
W. T. Rawleigh Co. v. Hester 1941

Proposed changes


See also: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2009
  • House Bill 1048 would restrict the fees charged for open records to actual costs.[1] The bill unanimously passed the House on February 10, 2009.[2]
  • Senate Bill 2921 would reduce the response time required by law for open records requests to seven days (rather than the then-current 14 days) and restrict fees charged for open records to actual costs.[3] The Senate recommitted this bill to committee 26-23, which effectively killed it.[2][4]
  • Senate Bill 3109 concerned the construction of artificial reefs in the Gulf and contained an exemption to FOIA.[5] The House version of the bill did not contain the exemption.[2]

The Natchez Democrat, Clarion Ledger and the Hattiesburg American have editorialized in favor of both HB1048 and SB2921.[6][7][8]

Mississippi's transparency report card

A 2008 study, BGA - Alper Integrity Index, conducted by the Better Government Association and sponsored by Alper Services, ranked Mississippi #39 in the nation with an overall percentage of 45.90%.[9]

A 2007 study, Graded state responsiveness to FOI requests, conducted by BGA and the NFOIC, gave Mississippi 41 points out of a possible 100, a letter grade of "F" and a ranking of 33 out of the 50 states.[10]

A 2002 study, Freedom of Information in the USA, conducted by IRE and BGA, ranked Mississippi's law as the 29th worst in the country, giving it a letter grade of "D+."[11]

Features of the law

Sunshine variations Compare States: Sunshine variations
Click on the heading to compare your state's law to other state's transparency laws.

Declared legal intention

See also: Declared legal intentions across the U.S.

The declared legal intention of the law states, "It is the policy of this state that public records shall be available for inspection by any person unless otherwise provided by this chapter; furthermore, providing access to public records is a duty of each public body and automation of public records must not erode the right of access to those records."[12]

What records are covered?

See also: Defining public records

Records are defined as "all books, records, papers, accounts, letters, maps, photographs, films, cards, tapes, recordings or reproductions thereof, and any other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, having been used, being in use, or prepared, possessed or retained for use in the conduct, transaction or performance of any business, transaction, work, duty or function of any public body, or required to be maintained by any public body."[13]


Some exemptions include:

  • Trade secrets and other confidential fiscal information[14]
  • Home contact information for law enforcement and judicial personnel[15]
  • Personal information of victims[16]
  • Medical records[17]

However, departments are required to separate non-exempt material from exempt material and release the non-exempt material.[18]

Deliberative process

See also: Deliberative process exemption

What agencies are covered?

See also: Defining public body

Public body is defined as "any department, bureau, division, council, commission, committee, subcommittee, board, agency and any other entity of the state or a political subdivision thereof, and any municipal corporation and any other entity created by the Constitution or by law, executive order, ordinance or resolution."[19]


See also: Legislatures and transparency

While the legislature falls under the definition of public body found at Mississippi code 25-61-3, the act does state that "[n]othing in this chapter shall be construed as denying the Legislature the right to determine the rules of its own proceedings and to regulate public access to its records."[20]

Privatized governmental agencies

See also: Private agency, public dollars and Private agency, public dollars-Mississippi

In Mississippi, private entities created by public bodies are considered public and subject to the Public Records Act.

Public universities

See also: Universities and open records

The definition of public body presumably includes public universities within the state.

Who may request records?

See also: List of who can make public record requests by state

Anyone may request access to Mississippi's public documents. "[P]ublic records must be available for inspection by any person."[21]

Must a purpose be stated?

See also: States requiring a statement of purpose

No statement of purpose is required by law.

How can records be used?

See also: Record use restrictions

There are no restrictions placed on the use of records.

Time allowed for response

See also: Request response times by state

Mississippi law states that, if not decided upon by the individual department, departments have one working day to respond to PRA requests. However, departments may establish their own time limits of up to fourteen working days.[22]

Fees for records

Copy costs

See also: How much do public records cost?

Mississippi law allows for the charging of fees to include the physical cost of duplication.[23]

Search fees

See also: Sunshine laws and search fees

Mississippi law allows for the charging of fees to include labor costs associated with the search, compilation and duplication of materials.[24]

Role of the Attorney General

See also: Role of the Attorney General

There is currently no provision within the state open records law that empowers the State Department of Law to enforce the right of the public to access governmental records.

Open meetings

"It being essential to the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of representative government and to the maintenance of a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner, and that citizens be advised of and be aware of the performance of public officials and the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the State of Mississippi that the formation and determination of public policy is public business and shall be conducted at open meetings except as otherwise provided herein."[25]

See also

External links