UT professor awarded $78k after public records lawsuit against Knox County Sheriff’s Office

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A University of Tennessee professor has now been awarded $78,000 dollars in attorney’s fees and other expenses after suing the Knox County Sheriff’s Office last year.

Meghan Conley’s suit against the sheriff’s office stemmed from access to public records requests regarding the county’s 287(g) program, which allows deputies to take on some of the functions of immigration agents.

Chancellor John Weaver found that the Knox County Sheriff’s Office had violated the public records law by denying Conley access to arrest records and emails.

Knox County started participating in the program in 2018 under previous sheriff JJ Jones. Sheriff Tom Spangler renewed the office’s participation in the program in 2019 and 2020.

Weaver has since ordered the sheriff’s office to develop a system to allow access to arrest records.
He also ordered the sheriff’s office to stop automatically denying public records requests that are, “generally phrased in terms of information sought.”

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