Monday, August 20, 2012

Judge closes hearing in case involving mother accused of sexualizing 6-year-old at pageants

A judge in Campbell County closed a hearing in a high-profile child custody case Saturday and put a gag order on the mother, who had "claimed that her ex-husband was using [her daughter's] participation in child beauty pageants as a reason for the court to award him full custody," reports  of WXIX-TV. Family Court Judge Rick Woeste also ordered that 6-year-old Madisyn "Maddy" Verst and her mother could not participate in any pageants "until further notice," Murphy reports. The proceedings are to resume Aug. 31.

Maddy's "saucy shake and shimmy landed her on the cover of People magazine, with the headline asking, 'Gone Too Far?'," Murphy reports. A court-appointed psychologist said the mother, Lindsay Jackson, was sexualizing her daughter. Jackson denied that, saying the child's padded Dolly Parton outfit on the "Toddlers and Tiaras" TV reality show on TLC was "designed to represent our state. Dolly’s from Tennessee. . . . I shouldn’t be at risk of losing my child simply because she participates in a hobby that some people don’t like." (Read more) For a Fox News report and talking-heads debate aired before the recent hearing, click here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hustonville officials refuse to release text of proposed ordinances after first reading

Here's one we've never heard before: A city refusing to provide the text of proposed ordinances on which its city council has held first reading. It is happening in Hustonville, the small Lincoln County town on US 127 between Danville and Liberty, reports Ben Kleppinger of The Interior Journal of the county seat of Stanford:

"Hustonville City Council has passed first readings of five ordinances aimed at curtailing certain behaviors within city limits, but the city has refused to release the text of the ordinances to the public. The ordinances were read aloud by Mayor Marc Spivey at the city's Aug. 7 regularly scheduled meeting. City Attorney Carol Hill refused to give the weekly newspaper copies of the ordinances, claiming they are "preliminary documents," and City Clerk Rita Clem denied a written open-records request, saying "The Open Records Act only governs access to the existing records and not to records that will be created in the future."

Kleppinger reports, "Kentucky Press Association Attorney Jeremy Rogers, who specializes in open meetings and open records law, said there's no question ordinances that pass first reading are open record. Rogers said Hustonville's argument that the ordinances do not exist doesn't make any sense because they have all already received first readings. . . . There's nothing preliminary or private or secret about it. They've read it in an open meeting."

The newspaper is appealing denial of its open-records request to Attorney General Jack Conway. The ordinances deal with littering, illegal parking, jaywalking, wearing of masks and one that would ban "formation of any type of line and/or congregating on the sidewalks, streets or any other public property." (Read more)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Judge tells Owensboro police to give newspaper records of probe into public information officer

Daviess Circuit Judge Joe Castlen ruled Monday that the Owensboro Police Department must give the Messenger-Inquirer newspaper records relating to the department's investigation of its former public information officer.

The judge "said the city must release two documents that say why the police department's Professional Standards Unit began two investigations of [Marian] Cosgrove prior to her resignation in November," James Mayse reports for the M-I. The police department's attorney had argued that the documents were exempt from the Open Records Act because they were "internal" and because Cosgrove resigned before any administrative action was taken against her.