The Salt Lake Tribune and its reporter, Matthew Piper, Appellees,
State Records Committee, Appellant, and Brigham Young University, Intervenor and Appellant.
October 4, 2019
Appeal of Interlocutory Order Third District, Salt Lake The
Honorable Laura Scott No. 160904365
Michael Patrick O'Brien, Mark D. Tolman, C. Michael Judd,
Salt Lake City, for appellees
D. Reyes, Att'y Gen., Brent A. Burnett, Asst. Solic.
Gen., Salt Lake City, for appellant
S. Jardine, Samuel C. Straight, Salt Lake City, Steven M.
Sandberg, David M. Andersen, Provo, for intervenor-appellant
Justice Petersen authored the opinion of the Court, in which
Chief Justice Durrant, Judge Orme, Judge Mortensen, and Judge
recused themselves, Associate Chief Justice Lee, Justice
Himonas, and Justice Pearce do not participate herein; Court
of Appeals Judges Gregory K. Orme, David N. Mortensen, and
Diana Hagen sat.
The court of appeals certified this interlocutory appeal to
us to determine whether the Brigham Young University Police
Department is a "governmental entity" subject to
the Government Records Access and Management Act
(GRAMA). However, after certification, the
legislature amended the statute to explicitly define the
police departments of private universities as governmental
entities subject to GRAMA, with Brigham Young
University's support. And the Salt Lake Tribune has made
a new GRAMA request for the contested records under the
amended statute. Accordingly, answering the question
presented will not have any precedential value for future
cases, and it is not clear that doing so will materially
affect the final decision in this case or the ultimate
determination of whether the Tribune gets the documents it
seeks here. We therefore conclude that it will better serve
the administration and interests of justice to remand this
case back to the district court where the proceedings can be
finalized and any remaining appellate questions can be
handled on direct appeal.
In 2016, the Salt Lake Tribune (Tribune) began investigating
allegations that Brigham Young University (BYU) was
mishandling victims' reports of sexual abuse.
Specifically, the Tribune was exploring claims that BYU's
Police Department (University Police) was aiding the BYU
Honor Code Office in investigating and disciplining students
who had reported sexual abuse for possible ecclesiastical
As part of this investigation, the Tribune's reporter
Matthew Piper sent a GRAMA request to the University Police. He
sought three categories of documents: (1) all police records
since 2011 referencing the term "honor code"; (2)
all GRAMA responses from the University Police to the BYU
Honor Code Office or Title IX Office since 2011; and (3) all
emails between the University Police and six specified email
The University Police provided documents related to the first
two categories, but it refused to provide documents related
to the third category. According to the University Police, it
did not have any "such law enforcement/public safety
records related email" ...