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What things are public record in your city? Is it really public? Try it and see! First, you or someone go in as an everyday citizen and ask for certain records - these can be records at the courthouse, sheriff's department, police department, wherever you choose. Use as many places as possible. You might want to make a chart. What records were available and what records were not. Then go in as a reporter. You need the same kinds of records. Were you able to get them? Finally, have someone with more prominent records -- a lawyer, a policeman, someone you think might be able to get such records -- and see if those same records are available. Who could get the records -- anyone, no one, some people? Are they "really" public records? Is there a way to make your records sealed? How well can you check out someone in your city?