Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Agencies told their forms are improper

The office of Attorney General Jack Conway issued two opinions last week criticizing public bodies for denying records inappropriately.

The city of Carrollton violated the Open Records Law when it required a citizen seeking public records to fill out a city form for the request.

Salome Frances Spenneberg Kist in February requested records concerning specific properties in the city. The opinion, issued May 23, said the city cannot require requesters to use a city form. The opinion also criticized the city for failing to respond to Ms. Kist within three days, as the law requires.

The decision quoted a 1994 Attorney General’s opinion: “While the public agency may require a written application, as opposed to an oral request, there is nothing in the (open records) statute which authorizes a public agency to reject a request simply because the requester did not use the specific form devised by the public agency. A particular form may be desired or suggested by a public agency but failure to use that form cannot be the basis for rejecting a request to inspect records.”

In a separate opinion, the office held that the Housing Authority of Morgantown, Butler County, violated the law by asking Robert Cron why he was requesting records and by requiring him to fill out a form.

The opinion quotes a 2006 opinion of the attorney general which held “KRS 61.872(2) does not authorize public agencies to inquire into a requester’s motives in seeking access to public records, or to consider those motives in determining whether the records should be released.”

The office also ruled against a state prisoner who requested legal statutes from the Kentucky State Law Library. The attorney general’s office has previously held that the court system, including the law library, is not bound by the provisions of the Open Records Act.

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