Monday, September 13, 2010

Paper appeals ruling on redacted police reports

The Kentucky New Era will appeal a court ruling that allows police to remove addresses and telephone numbers from crime reports before they're released, editor Jennifer P. Brown said Monday. She said Jon Fleischaker, one of Kentucky's top media lawyers, will represent the Hopkinsville newspaper in the appeal of the Christian Circuit Court decision last week.

The case stems from an open records request filed with the city of Hopkinsville by the New Era a year ago for arrest reports and incident reports about a suspicious fire. The city withheld "open case" files, but on those files it released, it removed information on race, gender, date of birth, ethnicity, addresses and telephone numbers.

The paper appealed to the attorney general's office, which ruled that the city could not apply blanket redactions to police reports, but must show case-by-case why certain information should be withheld. The city appealed to circuit court, which initially agreed with the attorney general, but last week amended its ruling to allow for the routine redaction of Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers, home addresses and telephone numbers. The paper agreed on the first two, but will argue against the withholding of addresses and phone numbers in its appeal.

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