Appendix D – Summaries of Oregon Attorney General Opinions

Within this Section

    Note: The legislature significantly renumbered the Public Records Law in 1987 and 2017. The below summaries refer to the numbering in the 2017 edition of the Oregon Revised Statutes.


    38 Op Atty Gen 467 (1976).

    The Employment Relations Board could not lawfully adopt a rule restricting access to nonexempt public records. Note that the investigatory information discussed in this opinion is now conditionally exempt from disclosure under ORS 192.345(9).

    Letter of Advice to Kathleen M. Straughan (OP-3928) (June 7, 1977).

    Disclosing a patient’s medical file to the patient would generally not constitute an unreasonable invasion of privacy under ORS 192.355(2).

    38 Op Atty Gen 945 (1977), 1977 WL 31257.

    Attempting to alter public records to reflect a student’s name change could be construed as tampering with public records (in violation of ORS 162.305(1) ») or as disposing of public records without authority (in violation of ORS 192.105).

    38 Op Atty Gen 1318 (1977), 1977 WL 31305.

    Elections officer could not refuse inspection of a poll book solely because inspection might disclose how a particular elector voted. Note that this opinion analyzed ORS 260.650(1) », which has since been repealed but exists in similar form in ORS 260.695(7).

    38 Op Atty Gen 1761 (1978), 1978 WL 29465.

    Background materials concerning agenda matters given to governing body members in advance of a public hearing were public records, subject to disclosure unless exempt. The governing body could condition release of exempt information to the press on a stipulation that the material would not be disclosed until a certain date, but the governing body could not enforce that agreement. The governing body could not condition release of nonexempt information on such a stipulation.

    39 Op Atty Gen 61 (1978), 1978 WL 29400.

    Motor Vehicles Division was constitutionally required to charge other government agencies and private individuals for record information, since its expense otherwise would be an unlawful diversion of the constitutionally dedicated Highway Fund. It could charge for its expenses in conducting a search even if it did not find the requested information. Note that recent public records orders (Sept 12, 2016, Friedman »; and Oct 15, 2016, Harden ») call the conclusion on the constitutional issue into question.

    39 Op Atty Gen 480 (1979), 1979 WL 35604.

    A written personnel evaluation of a community college president was exempt from disclosure under ORS 341.290(17) », except with the consent of the college president involved.

    39 Op Atty Gen 721 (1979), 1979 WL 35665.

    A county could not refuse to allow a person to use the person’s own equipment to copy records, subject to reasonable rules and regulations for protection of the records and to prevent interference with county business. A home-rule county could not charge a fee exceeding the actual cost of making a record available.

    40 Op Atty Gen 96 (1979), 1979 WL 35569.

    The Governor could inspect confidential child abuse records to the extent required to determine that laws relating to child abuse were being faithfully carried out. The Attorney General could inspect such records to the extent required to provide proper legal representation to the agency.

    40 Op Atty Gen 155 (1979), 1979 WL 35585.

    DHS was prohibited by ORS 441.671(1) » from disclosing any reports and records compiled under its duties to investigate certain reports of elder abuse, not just the reports of abuse. Note that this statute has since been amended, but the wording at issue remains in similar form. The remainder of the opinion was based on an administrative structure that is no longer in place.


    41 Op Atty Gen 437 (1981), 1981 WL 151688.

    A school board’s evaluation forms on a local superintendent were not exempt because disclosure would not constitute an unreasonable invasion of privacy under ORS 192.355(2). A public employee had “little reason * * * to believe that how effectively he or she performs official duties will be kept confidential” and there was “a clear public interest in knowing how public employees are performing their official duties,” especially administrative personnel. Because these forms were not exempt, the school board could not meet in executive session. Note that ORS 192.660(2)(i) now allows public bodies to meet in executive session to discuss this type of information.

    41 Op Atty Gen 455 (1981), 1981 WL 151694.

    The Department of Revenue could not, under ORS 314.835 » and 314.840, divulge the names or other particulars of taxpayers who had paid a fraud penalty in connection with income tax returns, except to the Attorney General or a district attorney to enable them to advise and represent the department.

    42 Op Atty Gen 17 (1981), 1981 WL 152257.

    Police agencies were not prohibited by ORS 419A.255 » from releasing, at the time of arrest, a juvenile arrestee’s name and the grounds for arrest. Police agencies probably would not incur civil liability for releasing this information, and news agencies would not incur civil liability for releasing this information if lawfully obtained.

    42 Op Atty Gen 382 (1982), 1982 WL 183049.

    The names, business addresses, and home addresses of the Board of Nursing’s licensees were not exempt because disclosure would not constitute an unreasonable invasion of privacy under ORS 192.355(2). The Board could sell this information, but not for more than an amount reasonably calculated to recover its actual costs.

    42 Op Atty Gen 392 (1982), 1982 WL 183052.

    The Oregon Investment Council could employ executive sessions to consider records exempt by law from public inspection. Stock and stock market appraisals submitted in confidence by its money managers, written evaluations of its money managers, and technical reports prepared by consultants and money managers could be kept confidential and discussed in executive session if the requirements of ORS 192.355(4)  were met.

    Letter of Advice to Wendy L. Greenwald (OP-6087) (Feb 26, 1987), 1987 WL 278312.

    Checklists showing which employees had voted in representation elections conducted by the Employment Relations Board were public records and not exempt from disclosure. That information was not exempt under ORS 192.355(2) because disclosure would not constitute an unreasonable invasion of privacy: the statutory and regulatory context indicated that public access to those lists was necessary to file with the board a challenge to the conduct of an election.

    In addition, this information was not exempt as confidential information under ORS 192.355(4) . The information could not reasonably be considered confidential because the board’s responsibility to regulate representation elections showed a need for public access to these lists in order to challenge election results.

    Letter of Advice to Jim Kenney (OP-6126) (June 1, 1987), 1987 WL 278343.

    The Lane County Department of Assessment and Taxation was not required to use computer programs that generated appraisal reports on specific properties to produce such reports in response to a public records request. While the raw data used by the programs was a public record, the appraisal reports that analyzed the raw data did not yet exist.

    Letter of Advice to Wanda Clinton (OP-6049) (June 26, 1987), 1987 WL 278262.

    The Department of Revenue could not use Public Records Law to obtain financial data from local governments. The definition of the “person[s]” entitled to access to records did not include public bodies, which was a separately defined term. However, the department could ask the local governments to voluntarily provide that information.

    Letter of Advice to W.T. Lemman (OP-6217) (Mar 29, 1988), 1988 WL 416244.

    Oregon State University did not waive the exemption for pre-publication research, ORS 192.345(14), by disclosing raw data and preliminary reports to other participants in the research cooperative. The disclosures would be made to ensure the accuracy of the research, and thus was consistent with the purposes underlying the exemption, that is, to protect against piracy of research ideas and data collected by faculty members, and to protect against the risks associated with the release of incomplete and inaccurate data pending its verification and correction.

    Letter of Advice to W.T. Lemman (OP-6248) (Oct 13, 1988), 1988 WL 416293.

    The University of Oregon could withhold the identities of candidates for university president during the selection process under ORS 192.355(2). Disclosing the names would constitute an unreasonable invasion of privacy due to the potential professional threat to candidates. The public interest did not require disclosure because disclosure would discourage potential candidates from applying, which would make it more difficult to recruit talented applicants.

    46 Op Atty Gen 155 (1989), 1989 WL 439806.

    The Oregon Medical Insurance Pool was not a “public body” subject to the Public Records Law. In particular, the organization was not subject to management and control by the state as the board of directors was selected by the organization’s members, which were insurers.


    49 Op Atty Gen 210 (2000), 2000 WL 101166. 

    The Treasurer  was required under ORS 192.324(3) to provide a paper copy of a record maintained in electronic form if the paper copy could be generated by simply pressing a “print” button on a computer.

    Letter of Advice to Dianne Middle (OP-2000-1) (July 11, 2000), 2000 WL 992134.

    Public records that referred to a set-aside conviction, but that were not themselves sealed by court order under ORS 137.225(3) », were not exempt from disclosure.