Does forwarding a government email tarnish its status as a public record?

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Does forwarding a government email tarnish its status as a public record?

Government emails are public records, and subject to public disclosure. A government employee forwards a government email to their home computer, to study it, keep track of it etc.. The government email is still retained on the government system. The government email is a true public record and subject to public disclosure. Yet, because the government employee has forwarded the email to their home computer, to study it, keep track of it etc., does that diminish or tarnish the government email’s status of a public record?

Asked on August 28, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, it has no effect on the document's status as a public record. Making a copy (which is essentially what the employee did) in no way alters the status or nature of the original--except in one way: forwarding, sharing, etc.  confidential documents (e.g confidential under attorney work product, lawyer-client confidentiality, etc.) can strip away the confidentiality in some cases and make the document easier for others to legally obtain.


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