Who is entitled to access?
Everyone is entitled to access to public records in North Carolina, regardless of who they are or how they plan to use the record. The law stipulates, “No person requesting to inspect and examine public records, or to obtain copies thereof, shall be required to disclose the purpose or motive for the request.” Unlike some states, North Carolina does not require a requester to be a resident of the state to obtain records. The N.C. Court of Appeals has specifically stated that a news media organization is a “person” entitled to access under the Public Records Law. In 2004 the N.C. Court of Appeals ruled that government agencies may not use the Public Records Law to sue private citizens for a declaratory judgment to resolve public records disputes. To allow such lawsuits, the court reasoned, would discourage citizens from seeking access to records and pervert the purpose of the public records statute.