Deseret News Archive
BYU plans to appeal a state judge's ruling that its University Police Department is a governmental entity subject to the state's open-records laws.

PROVO — BYU plans to appeal a state judge's ruling that its University Police Department is a governmental entity subject to the state's open-records laws.

Last week, 3rd District Judge Laura Scott concluded that University police is subject to the state's Government Records Access and Management Act. A university spokesman expressed disappointment and said the administration would consider an appeal after reviewing Scott's full ruling.

Scott released the full ruling on Tuesday.

" ... BYUPD is functionally equivalent to every other police department in Utah, all of which are subject to GRAMA. "
3rd District Judge Laura Scott

"We intend to appeal," university spokesman Todd Hollingshead said, "and as the court wrote in (its) ruling: 'BYU has strong arguments worthy of appellate consideration.'"

The case stems from a rape allegation made by a 19-year-old student in 2016. The Salt Lake Tribune made a GRAMA request for University police emails related to the allegation.

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BYU would not release the emails, arguing that it is not a listed entity with the Department of Public Safety because it is a "privately funded, managed and operated police department within a private university." University attorneys said the "stated purpose of GRAMA is to allow access to certain government records held by governmental entities — not to allow access to private records of private institutions such as BYU, or internal departments of private institutions, such as" University police.

Scott ruled that University police is state-certified and therefore exercises the state's police power.

"When BYUPD is exercising the state's police power, BYUPD creates records specifically identified in GRAMA as being 'public records,'" Scott wrote. "And BYUPD is functionally equivalent to every other police department in Utah, all of which are subject to GRAMA."

She granted the Tribune's request for summary judgment.