A man who says all he wanted was some public information instead got a visit from a Middle Tennessee sheriff. And he says the sheriff is going through great lengths to cover up alleged misconduct at the Marshall County jail.This from Lewisburg in Marshall County, Tennessee, where the sheriff ran a background check, called Homeland Security and showed up at the guy's house.
This sort of thing will pretty much get you sued in any state if it's your reaction to a public records request. Of course, when you're sheriff, the money you pay to the plaintiff comes from the people you're supposed to be serving and protecting.
Sheriff Normal Dalton said he had to verify that the requester, who publishes a prison-related newsletter, was a Tennesee resident. Then said the journalist had to show up in person. Presumably to show he was not wearing a burnoose or something.
I will say it's a marvelous-looking courthouse in the photo with the story. Maybe they though he was some sort of architectural detail thief.
Maybe the sheriff has a shiny new red phone line to DHS and was dying to try it.
"Normal"? It appears from the photo that Normal is running for re-election, too. Whether his lapse of common sense matters, I have no idea. I'm not from Tennessee.
Those are all things, Dalton's attorney says, were done to protect the jail.
"Like the sheriff said on the witness stand, if he is not personally familiar with the person requesting or knows that they are a resident, then he has a right - he has an obligation - to make sure they are a resident of the state of Tennessee," said defense attorney William Haywood.
"The only reason they gave for denying the request is that I had to come in in person, which, again, is a violation of state law. And, in fact, the Open Records Council for Tennessee told them that that was not a requirement, and yet they repeatedly cited that as a reason for denying my request," Friedmann said.