Lake v. City of Phoenix

In Lake v. City of Phoenix, the Arizona Court of Appeals faced the question of whether metadata embedded within an electronic document is accessible under Arizona’s public-records statute. Lacking a statutory definition of “public record,” the court relied on Arizona common-law definitions from Mathews v. Pyle and Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community v. Rogers. The majority viewed metadata as a mere “by-product” of the underlying public document, and held that it was not independently accessible under the statute. Judge Patricia K. Norris, in a dissenting opinion, argued that metadata was “integral to the original electronic documents,” and as such, should be accessible just like a paper copy. This Case Note addresses several post-Lake questions.