Open Records Statute: CAPE PUBLICATIONS D/B/A THE COURIER JOURNAL V. CITY OF LOUISVILLE (COA; 3/31/2006)

CAPE PUBLICATIONS D/B/A THE COURIER JOURNAL V. CITY OF LOUISVILLE
GOVERNMENT – Open Records Act 
2004-CA-002270
PUBLISHED
AFFIRMING ; JOHNSON
DATE:  3/31/2006

The Courier-Journal appealed order of the Jefferson Circuit Court denying access to performance evaluations of employees of the Louisville and Jefferson County Parks Department who had been accused of criminal wrongdoing in the course of their duties. The Courier-Journal sought access to the records under the Open Records Act, Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 61.870 et seq.

Judge Abramson had ruled that even though the records are public records within the meaning of the statute, they are exempt from disclosure under the privacy exemptions found in KRS 61.878(l)(a).  The Courier-Journal argued on appeal that the public’s interest in the doings of a public agency outweighs the privacy interest of particular employees in non-disclosure of their performance evaluations, particularly when the employee has committed a criminal act.

COA agreed with the Courier-Journal and reversed the circuit court and order that the Courier-Journal receive redacted versions of the evaluations, with all personal information removed.

NOTE:  The trial judge who was reversed in this matter is Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Lisabeth Hughes Abramson who will be serving on the Kentucky Court of Appeals next year after filing for the vacant seat and having no opposition in the upcoming election.

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