FLAGO Mind Minute: Public Official Personal Notes


In 2009, the City of Deltona, FL requested a legal opinion to the following question: are “hand-written notes, taken by a city commissioner on agenda items during a commission meeting but not disclosed to anyone…public records subject to disclosure?…are text messages sent or received by city commissioners during city commission meetings public records?”

The City provided further context that the subject city commissioner responded that their notes were not disclosed to anyone and that the phone used during the meeting does not retain a record of text messages. Moreover, the commissioner asserted that all text messages made or received during meetings were private and did not pertain to public business.

Florida AGO Response (in summary): Any portion of handwritten notes not made or received in the official course of business. Likewise, private text messages made or received during meetings would not appear to be public records subject to disclosure. In instances where an official has made personal notes, they may still be considered public records if they are created to communicate, perpetuate, or formalized knowledge of some type…when a public employee has made notes to himself or herself “which are designed for their own personal use in remembering certain things, such notes are not considered public records….but rather precursors of governmental records.

Reference: Informal Opinion 06/02/2009
Reference Link:

Disclaimer: This information is being provided for general knowledge purposes. Florida Attorney General Opinions serve to provide legal advice on questions of statutory interpretation. The opinions of the Attorney General, however, are not law; they are advisory only and are not binding in a court of law.


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