Note: This page covers information specific to Nevada. For general information concerning access to government records see the Access to Government Records section of this guide.
Under the Nevada Public Records Law, all public books and records of any government entity that have not been declared confidential must be made available to members of the public upon request. Nev. R. Stat. Ch. 239. The law does not put any limitations on who may make the request to inspect the public records, and any exception or exemption to the public records law must be construed narrowly. Nev. R. Stat. 239.001.
Included Government Bodies
A "governmental entity" for the purposes of the Nevada Public Records Law includes an elected or appointed officer of Nevada or of a political subdivision of the state; an institution, board, commission, bureau, council, department, division, authority, or other unit of government of Nevada or a political subdivision of Nevada; a university foundation (a nonprofit corporation, association, or institution or a charitable organization that's purpose is fundraising in support of a university, state college, or community college, which was formed pursuant to the laws of the state and is a 501(c)(3) organization); and educational foundations that are dedicated to the assistance of public schools. The law also includes private entities under contract with the government to provide services to the public that are "substantially similar" to the services provided by the government and are in lieu of services otherwise authorized or required to be provided by the government.
Public Records Defined
All books and records, except those exempted by statute, must be made available for inspection during normal business hours. Any privatization contract, which authorizes private entities to provide certain public services, is also public record.
Records are confidential if the record contains the name, address, telephone number, or other potentially personal identifying information of a person and the person whose information appears in the record provided the information to the public entity for the purpose of 1) registering with the entity for the purpose of using a recreational facility or a portion of the facility or 2) on his own behalf or on behalf of a child, registering, enrolling, or applying to participate in a recreational or instructional activity that is conducted by, sponsored, or conducted by a public entity. Nev. R. Stat. 239.0105. Additionally, any public library records
that identify a user with the property used are not public records under this statute. Nev. R. Stat. 239.013.
The statute does not specifically define what is public record. Generally, what qualifies as public record is determined by case law. According to the Legislative findings, the government entities and courts must apply a balancing of interests test, although this is also not specifically defined. The most commonly used test is laid out in Donrey of Nevada v. Bradshaw, 106 Nev. 630, 798
P.2d 144 (1990). In the Donrey test, the court must balance the public's right to know the information being requested with the individual's right to privacy. However, the test was intended to be applied very narrowly to criminal investigative records, although it is often cited by entities in refusals to comply with records requests. Generally, in order to challenge a refusal in which the entity cites Donrey, the person making the request must appeal to the district court in the county where the record is located.
Making a Public Records RequestA request for a copy of a public record does not need to be made in writing, and the public entity must furnish the record no later than the fifth business day after receipt of the request. Nev. R. Stat. 239.0107. If the entity does not have legal custody or control of the record, the entity must give the person requesting the record notice of that fact in writing and must provide the name and address of the governmental entity that does have legal custody or control of the record. If the entity cannot make the public record available by the end of the fifth business day, then it must make that notification in writing and it must provide a date and time when the record will be made available.
If the public entity denies the request because all or part of the record is confidential, it must provide notice of that fact in writing and cite to the statute or legal authority that makes the information confidential. Nev. R. Stat. 239.0107(d).
A government entity may charge a fee for providing copies of a public record, but that fee must not exceed the actual cost of making a copy of the record, unless a statute or regulation sets a fee for a copy. Nev. R. Stat. 239.052. If a statute specifies that an entity must not charge for a copy, then there is no charge. The fees must be posted in a conspicuous place at each office where the public record may be obtained.
Copies of transcripts of administrative or court proceedings shall have an additional per-page fee, which must also be posted in a conspicuous place. Nev. R. Stat. 239.053. Additional fees also apply if the information is obtained from a geographic information system, when it requires "an extraordinary use of personnel or resources," or if microfilm is used. Nev. R. Stat. 239.054-055;
If the request is denied, the applicant may apply to the district court in the county where the record is located requesting an order to allow for the applicant to view the record. Nev. R. Stat. 239.011. The burden of proof the courts used when determining the confidentiality of a document is preponderance of the evidence. If the court grants the records request, the applicant may be able to recover reasonable attorneys fees and costs. Nev. R. Stat. 239.011.
The Citizen Media Law Project would like to thank the Randazza Legal Group for preparing this section. The contents of this page should not be considered to be legal advice.