Full text of Mississippi laws
Mississippi Public Records Act
§ 25-61-1 (Supp. 1996). Short title; legislative policy regarding
right of access to records.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Mississippi
Public Records Act of 1983." It is the policy of the Legislature
that public records must be available for inspection by any person
unless otherwise provided by this act. 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.
As each agency increases its use of and dependence on electronic
record keeping, each agency must ensure reasonable access to records
electronically maintained, subject to the rules of records retention.
§ 25-61-2 (Supp. 1996). State policy regarding access to
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. As each public body increases
its use of, and dependence on, electronic record keeping, each
public body must ensure reasonable access to records electronically
maintained, subject to records retention.
§ 25-61-3 (Supp. 1996). Definitions.
The following words shall have the meanings ascribed herein unless
the context clearly requires otherwise:
(a) "Public body" shall mean 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.
Within the meaning of this chapter, the term "entity" shall
not be construed to include individuals employed by a public body
or any appointed or elected public official.
(b) "Public records" shall mean 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.
(c) "Data processing software" means the programs and
routines used to employ and control the capabilities of data processing
hardware, including, but not limited to, operating systems, compilers,
assemblers, utilities, library routines, maintenance routines,
applications and computer networking programs.
(d) "Proprietary software" means data processing software
that is obtained under a licensing agreement and is protected by
copyright or trade secret laws.
§ 25-61-5. Public access to records; form and retention of
(1) Except as otherwise provided by sections 25-61-9 and 25-61-11,
all public records are hereby declared to be public property, and
any person shall have the right to inspect, copy or mechanically
reproduce or obtain a reproduction of any public record of a public
body in accordance with reasonable written procedures adopted by
the public body concerning the cost, time, place and method of
access, and public notice of the procedures shall be given by the
public body, or, in the event that a public body has not adopted
such written procedures, the right to inspect, copy or mechanically
reproduce or obtain a reproduction of a public record of the public
body shall be provided within one (1) working day after a written
request for a public record is made.No public body shall adopt procedures which will authorize the public body to produce or deny production of a public record later than seven (7) working days from the date of request for the production of such record.
(2) Denial by a public body of a request for access to or copies
of public records under this chapter shall be in writing and shall
contain a statement of the specific reasons for the denial. Each
public body shall maintain a file of all denials of requests for
public records. Public bodies shall be required to preserve such
denials on file for not less than three (3) years from the date
such denials are made. This file shall be made available for inspection
and/or copying during regular office hours to any person upon written
§ 25-61-7. Fees incident to providing records.
(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, each
public body may establish and collect fees reasonably calculated
to reimburse it for, and in no case to exceed, the actual cost
of searching, reviewing and/or duplicating and, if applicable,
mailing copies of public records. Such fees shall be collected
by the public body in advance of complying with the request.
(2) A public body may establish a standard fee scale to reimburse
it for the costs of creating, acquiring and maintaining a geographic
information system or multipurpose cadastre as authorized and defined
under Section 25-61-1 et seq., or any other electronically accessible
data. Such fees must be reasonably related to the cost of creating,
acquiring and maintaining the geographic information system, multipurpose
cadastre or other electronically accessible data, for the data
or information contained therein or taken therefrom and for any
records, papers, accounts, maps, photographs, films, cards, tapes,
recordings or other materials, data or information relating thereto,
whether in printed, digital or other format. In determining the
fees or charges under this subsection, the public body may consider
the type of information requested, the purpose or purposes for
which the information has been requested and the commercial value
of the information.
§ 25-61-9 (Supp. 1996). Records furnished by third parties
(1) Records furnished to public bodies by third parties which
contain trade secrets or confidential commercial or financial information
shall not be subject to inspection, examination, copying or reproduction
under this chapter until notice to said third parties has been
given, but such records shall be released within a reasonable period
of time unless the said third parties shall have obtained a court
order protecting such records as confidential.
If any public record which is held to be exempt from disclosure
pursuant to this chapter contains material which is not exempt
pursuant to this chapter, the public body shall separate the exempt
material and make the nonexempt material available for examination
and/or copying as provided for in this chapter.
(3) Trade secrets and confidential commercial and financial information
of a proprietary nature developed by a college or university under
contract with a firm, business, partnership, association, corporation,
individual or other like entity shall not be subject to inspection,
examination, copying or reproduction under this chapter.
(4) Misappropriation of a trade secret shall be governed by the
provisions of the Mississippi Uniform Trade Secrets Act, Sections
75-26-1 through 75- 26-19.
(5) A waste minimization plan and any updates developed by generators
and facility operators under the Mississippi Comprehensive Multimedia
Waste Minimization Act of 1990 shall be retained at the facility
and shall not be subject to inspection, examination, copying or
reproduction under this chapter.
(6) Data processing software obtained by an agency under a licensing
agreement that prohibits its disclosure and which software is a
trade secret, as defined in Section 75-26-3, and data processing
software produced by a public body which is sensitive must not
be subject to inspection, copying or reproduction under this chapter.
As used in this subsection, "sensitive" means only those
portions of data processing software, including the specifications
and documentation, used to:
(a) Collect, process, store, and retrieve information which is
exempt under this chapter.
(b) Control and direct access authorizations and security measures
for automated systems.
(c) Collect, process, store, and retrieve information, disclosure
of which would require a significant intrusion into the business
of the public body.
§ 25-61-10 (Supp. 1996). Access to records stored, manipulated
or retrieved by sensitive software; acquisition, modification,
etc., of systems, etc., used for creation or maintenance of public
records data bases.
(1) Any public body that uses sensitive software, as defined in
Section 25-61-9, or proprietary software must not thereby diminish
the right of the public to inspect and copy a public record. A
public body that uses sensitive software, as defined in Section
25-61-9, or proprietary software to store, manipulate, or retrieve
a public record will not be deemed to have diminished the right
of the public if it either: (a) If [if] legally obtainable, makes
a copy of the software available to the public for application
to the public records stored, manipulated, or retrieved by the
software; or (b) ensures that the software has the capacity to
create an electronic copy of each public record stored, manipulated,
or retrieved by the software in some common format such as, but
not limited to, the American Standard Code for Information Interchange.
(2) A public body shall provide a copy of the record in the format
requested if the public body maintains the record in that format,
and the public body may charge a fee which must be in accordance
with Section 25-61-7.
(3) Before a public body acquires or makes a major modification
to any information technology system, equipment, or software used
to store, retrieve, or manipulate a public record, the public body
shall adequately plan for the provision of public access and redaction
of exempt or confidential information by the proposed system, equipment
(4) A public body may not enter into a contract for the creation
or maintenance of a public records data base if that contract impairs
the ability of the public to inspect or copy the public records
of that agency, including public records that are on-line or stored
in an information technology system used by the public body.
§ 25-61-11. Records exempted or privileged by law.
The provisions of this chapter shall not be construed to conflict
with, amend, repeal or supersede any constitutional or statutory
law or decision of a court of this state or the United States which
at the time of this chapter is effective or thereafter specifically
declares a public record to be confidential or privileged, or provides
that a public record shall be exempt from the provisions of this
§ 25-61-13. Proceedings to compel public access to records;
(1) Any person denied the right granted by Section 25-61-5 to
inspect and/or copy public records may institute a suit in the
chancery court of the county in which the public body is located,
and the court shall determine whether such public record is exempt
from the provisions of this chapter, and in making such determination
the court shall take into consideration any constitutional or statutory
law or decision of any court of this state or the United States
or any rule of common law. Process shall be served on the proper
officials according to law.
(2) In any suit filed under subsection (1) of this section, the
court has the authority to prohibit the public body from withholding
the public records, to order the production of any public records
improperly withheld from the person seeking disclosure, and to
grant such other equitable relief as may be proper. The court,
on its own motion, may privately view the public records in controversy
before reaching a decision.
(3) Proceedings arising under this section shall take precedence
on the docket over all other matters and shall be assigned for
hearing and trial at the earliest practicable date and expedited
in every way. Such suits may be heard in termtime or in vacation.
(4) Any suit filed under this section shall be subject to all
the rights and rules of appeal for other suits arising in chancery
§ 25-61-15. Penalty for wrongful denial of access to record.
Any person who shall willfully and knowingly deny to any person
access to any public record which is not exempt from the provisions
of this chapter shall be liable civilly in a sum not to exceed
one hundred dollars ($100.00), plus all reasonable expenses incurred
by such person bringing the lawsuit.
§ 25-61-17. Chapter not to affect legislature.
Nothing 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.
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Mississippi Open Meetings Act
§ 25-33-19. Common seal of such officers. The board of supervisors
of every county shall provide a notarial seal, with the inscription "notary
public" around the margin and the image of an eagle in the
center, which seal shall be kept in the office of the clerk of
the circuit court; and all ex-officio notaries public may at all
times have access to and use such seal for the authentication of
any notarial act necessary to be so authenticated.
§ 25-41-1. Legislative declaration. 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.
§ 25-41-3. Definitions. For purposes of this chapter, the
following words shall have the meaning ascribed herein, to wit:
(a) "Public body" shall mean: (i) any executive or administrative
board, commission, authority, council, department, agency, bureau,
or any other policymaking entity, or committee thereof, of the
State of Mississippi, or any political subdivision or municipal
corporation of the state, whether such entity be created by statute
or executive order, which is supported wholly or in party by public
funds or expends public funds, and (ii) any standing, interim or
special committee of the Mississippi Legislature. There shall be
exempted from the provisions of this chapter the judiciary, including
all jury deliberations, public and private hospital staffs, public
and private hospital boards and committees thereof, law enforcement
officials, the military, the State Probation and Parole Board,
the Workers' Compensation Commission, legislative subcommittees
and legislative conference committees, and license revocation,
suspension and disciplinary proceedings held by the Mississippi
State Board of Dental Examiners.
(b) "Meeting" shall mean an assemblage of members of
a public body at which official acts may be taken upon a matter
over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction,
or advisory power.
§ 25-41-5. Official meetings of public bodies to be public
and open. All official meetings of any public body, unless otherwise
provided in this chapter or in the Constitutions of the United
States of America or the State of Mississippi, are declared to
be public meetings and shall be open to the public at all times
unless declared an executive session as provided in Section 25-41-7.
§ 25-41-7. Executive sessions.
(1) Any public body may enter into executive session for the transaction
of public business; provided, however, all meetings of any such
public body shall commence as an open meeting, and an affirmative
vote of three-fifths (3/5) of all members present shall be required
to declare an executive session.
(2) The procedure to be followed by any public body in declaring
an executive session shall be as follows: Any member shall have
the right to request by motion a closed determination upon the
issue of whether or not to declare an executive session. Such motion,
by majority vote, shall require the meeting to be closed for a
preliminary determination of the necessity for executive session.
No other business shall be transacted until the discussion of the
nature of the matter requiring executive session has been completed
and a vote, as required in subsection (1) hereof, has been taken
on the issue.
(3) An executive session shall be limited to matters allowed to
be exempted from open meetings by subsection (4) of this section.
The reason for holding such an executive session shall be stated
in an open meeting, and the reason so stated shall be recorded
in the minutes of the meeting. Nothing in this section shall be
construed to require that any meeting be closed to the public,
nor shall any executive session be used to circumvent or to defeat
the purposes of this chapter.
(4) A public body may hold an executive session pursuant to this
section for one or more of the following reasons:
(a) Transaction of business and discussion of personnel matters
relating to the job performance, character, professional competence,
or physical or mental health of a person holding a specific position.
(b) Strategy sessions or negotiations with respect to prospective
litigation, litigation or issuance of an appealable order when
an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the litigating
position of the public body.
(c) Transaction of business and discussion regarding the report,
development or course of action regarding security personnel, plans
(d) Investigative proceedings by any public body regarding allegations
of misconduct or violation of law.
(e) Any body of the Legislature which is meeting on matters within
the jurisdiction of such body.
(f) Cases of extraordinary emergency which would pose immediate
or irrevocable harm or damage to persons and/or property within
the jurisdiction of such public body.
(g) Transaction of business and discussion regarding the prospective
purchase, sale or leasing of lands.
(h) Discussions between a school board and individual students
who attend a school within the jurisdiction of such school board
or the parents or teachers of such students regarding problems
of such students or their parents or teachers.
(i) Transaction of business and discussion concerning the preparation
of tests for admission to practice in recognized professions.
(j) Transaction of business and discussions or negotiations regarding
the location, relocation or expansion of a business or an industry.
(k) Transaction of business and discussions regarding employment
or job performance of a person in a specific position or termination
of an employee holding a specific position. The exemption provided
by this paragraph includes the right to enter into executive session
concerning a line item in a budget which might affect the termination
of an employee or employees. All other budget items shall be considered
in open meetings and final budgetary adoption shall not be taken
in executive session.
(5) The total vote on the question of entering into an executive
session shall be recorded and spread upon the minutes of such public
(6) Any such vote whereby executive session is declared shall
be applicable only to that particular meeting on that particular
§ 25-41-9. Conduct of persons attending meetings. Any public
body may make and enforce reasonable rules and regulations for
the conduct of persons attending its meetings.
§ 25-41-11. Minutes. Minutes shall be kept of all meetings
of a public body, whether in open or executive session, showing
the members present and absent; the date, time and place of the
meeting; an accurate recording of any final actions taken at such
meeting; and a record, by individual member, of any votes taken;
and any other information that the public body requests be included
or reflected in the minutes. The minutes shall be recorded within
a reasonable time not to exceed thirty (30) days after recess or
adjournment and shall be open to public inspection during regular
Minutes of legislative committee meetings shall consist of a written
record of attendance and final actions taken at such meetings.
§ 25-41-13. Notice of meetings.
(1) Any public body which holds its meetings at such times and
places and by such procedures as are specifically prescribed by
statute shall continue to do so and no additional notice of such
meetings shall be required except that a notice of the place, date,
hour and subject matter of any recess meeting, adjourned meeting,
interim meeting or any called special meeting shall be posted within
one (1) hour after such meeting is called in a prominent place
available to examination and inspection by the general public in
the building in which the public body normally meets. A copy of
the notice shall be made a part of the minutes or other permanent
official records of the public body.
(2) Any public body, other than a legislative committee, which
does not have statutory provisions prescribing the times and places
and the procedures by which its meetings are to be held shall,
at its first regular or special meeting after July 1, 1990, spread
upon its minutes the times and places and the procedures by which
all of its meetings are to be held.
(3) During a regular or special session of the Mississippi Legislature,
notice of meetings of all committees, other than conference committees,
shall be given by announcement on the loudspeaker during sessions
of the House of Representatives or Senate or by posting on a bulletin
board provided for that purpose by each body.
(4) When not in session, the meetings times and places of all
committees shall be kept by the Clerk of the House of Representatives
as to House committees and by the Secretary of the Senate as to
Senate committees, and shall be available at all times during regular
working hours to the public and news media.
§ 25-41-15. Enforcement of the chapter, civil penalty.
The Mississippi Ethics Commission shall have the authority to enforce the provisions of this chapter upon a complaint filed by any person. Upon receiving a complaint, the commission shall forward a copy of the complaint to the head of the public body involved. The public body shall have fourteen (14) days from receipt of the complaint to file a response with the commission. After receiving the response to the complaint or, if no response is received after fourteen (14) days, the commission, in its discretion, may dismiss the complaint or proceed by setting a hearing in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the Ethics Commission.
After a hearing, the Ethics Commission may order the public body to take whatever reasonable measures necessary, if any, to comply with this chapter. If the Ethics Commission finds that a member or members of a public body has willfully and knowingly violated the provisions of this chapter, the Ethics Commission may impose a civil penalty upon the individual members of the public body found to be in violation of the provision of this chapter in a sum not to exceed Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) for a first offense and One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) for a second or subsequent offense, plus all reasonable expenses incurred by the person or persons in bringing the complaint to enforce this chapter.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit the Ethics Commission from mediating or otherwise resolving disputes arising under this chapter or from entering orders agreed to by the parties. In carrying out its responsibilities under this section, the Ethics Commission shall have all the powers and authority granted to it in Title 25, Chapter 4, Mississippi Code of 1972.
Any party may petition the chancery court of the county in which the public body is located to enforce or appeal any order of the Ethics Commission issued pursuant to this chapter. In any such appeal the chancery court shall conduct a de novo review.
§ 25-41-17. Chance meetings and social gatherings excluded.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to chance meetings
or social gatherings of members of a public body.
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