Media outlets, including ABC11, had argued the records should be made public under open records law as they sought as much information as possible about the UNC football scandal over improper benefits for players and academic misconduct.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said Davis used his personal phone to conduct job duties instead of his university phone, but his attorney argued the records don't constitute public records.
While Manning refused to hand over the records to the media Thursday, he said UNC and the former coach can't avoid public scrutiny of their cell phone records.
"I ... do not believe that our government officials, including University officials and coaches, are entitled to use the personal cell phone "dodge" to evade the North Carolina Public Records law," wrote Judge Manning.
Manning accepted the offer of Davis' attorney for an "in camera" eyes only review of the records.
It appears Judge Manning intends to screen out any private calls from ones made for public/job related purposes.
It wasn't clear what - if anything - might eventually be released to the public.
Butch Davis' Attorney, Jon Sasser, released this statement: "Coach Davis is delighted with this result. The Court clearly gave the matter serious thought, and we are appreciative of Judge Manning's deliberations and decision."
Holden Thorp, the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, issued the following statement in response to Judge Manning's ruling: "We appreciate Judge Manning's attention to this complex case, and we are reviewing his ruling. We are pleased that his decision affirms the privacy of student-athlete information related to academics and protects the important relationship between the university and its counsel."