Last month, ESPN reported that former Auburn softball player Alexa Nemeth had filed a complaint alleging that players suffered sexual harassment and abuse under then-head coach Clint Myers. This complaint, per ESPN, also said that “Coach Clint Myers knowingly let his son Corey Myers have relations and pursue relations with multiple members of the team.”
The complaint was, according to ESPN’s reporting, submitted to two state agencies: Auburn and the office of Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. ESPN didn’t post the full complaint, so I asked both Auburn and Ivey’s offices for copies. I did so knowing that, due to federal student-privacy laws, whatever I got back from Auburn would be incomplete, and that I was much more likely to get a fuller copy of what Nemeth submitted from Ivey’s office.
However, my request to Ivey’s office was rejected because I’m not a citizen of Alabama. Yes, in Alabama (as well as in a few other states) the only people allowed access to state records are state residents. This dangerous line of thinking, which reeks of a desire to keep the possibly critical eyes of outsiders off of state business, has been affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that similar laws in Virginia were legal by a whopping 9-0.
But hope is not lost. Because perhaps you, dear reader, are a resident of Alabama and would like to submit a public records request for me.
I contacted Ivey’s office and was told by the legal department that non-media members need to submit a form to ask for public records. That form is embedded below.
So, Alabama residents, go ahead and fill it out! You can put Deadspin as your organization, but please let me know first so I can keep track (you can reach me at email@example.com). The description of records to be viewed or copies should be described as: “The document sent by attorney Martin Greenberg on behalf of former Auburn softball player Alexa Nemeth regarding the team’s former head coach, Clint Myers.” The purpose of the document should be: “Public records request pursuant to Alabama law.”
In case you were wondering if they can legally ask you what you want with the document—it is illegal to ask this in some states—the answer is, “Yes.” Not only does Alabama limit access to state public records, it also has some pretty bad case law that says it’s okay to ask what you why you want these records. I am offering the phrase “public records request pursuant to Alabama law” based on guidance from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press guide to navigating Alabama’s public records laws.
And that’s it! I have no idea what fees the governor’s office will charge, but let me know what they quote you and we’ll figure it out.