Open Records Requests and Disclosure to Parties in Litigation

The following SCOKY decision addressed open records requests by parties involved in litigation:

Department of Revenue, Finance and Administration Cabinet, Commonwealth of Kentucky, et al. v. Mitzi D. Wyrick

2008-SC-000468-DG October 21, 2010 2009-SC-000543-DG October 21, 2010

Opinion of the Court by Justice Schroder.  All sitting; all concur.  The Supreme Court interpreted the “civil litigation limitation” to the Open Records Law, found in KRS 61.878(1).  The Court held that a request for open records should be evaluated independently of whether the requester is a party or potential party to litigation.  The civil litigation limitation applies only to documents otherwise excluded from disclosure by KRS 61.878(1)(a)-(n).  It is not an exception to an agency’s duty to disclose nonexempted records.  A court of competent jurisdiction, upon request, may grant disclosure of documents excluded from disclosure under KRS 61.878(1)(a)-(n) with one qualification:  if the document pertains to civil litigation, the court cannot order disclosure beyond that which is provided by the Rules of Civil Procedure governing pretrial discovery.