Supreme Court allows ruling to stand; UNC must release records of students disciplined for sexual assault

Posted January 11, 2021 12:44 p.m. EST
Updated January 11, 2021 4:50 p.m. EST

After more than four years, WRAL and a coalition of other media outlets have won a court battle over the University of North Carolina's refusal to turn over some public records.

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court denied a request by the university system to hear its appeal.

The lawsuit was filed in 2016 when UNC refused to release data on students disciplined on campus for sexual assault​.

Last May, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that UNC had to turn over the records.

The U.S. Supreme court's decision not to hear the appeal brings the case to a close, and ensures that public documents of this kind must be released to the media and the public.​

Attorney Hugh Stevens, of Steven Martin Vaught & Tadych, said, "Over my legal career I have learned that it is unwise either to gloat about a victory or despair about a defeat, but obviously it’s gratifying to prevail in a long, hard fight against dogged and worthy opponents. I am especially grateful that the result in this case upholds North Carolina’s long-established policy that public records are the property of the people, not government officials."

Joel Curran, UNC vice chancellor for communications, issued this statement:

“We respect but are disappointed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to deny the University’s request to review the North Carolina Supreme Court’s ruling in the Daily Tar Heel records case. We stand by our belief in the importance of a confidential process for everyone involved, one that protects the identities of sexual assault victims. Since the North Carolina Supreme Court ruling in May, the University has fully complied with the court’s direction.”

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