Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Request to agencies must be specific enough so documents can be searched for

Requests under the Open Records Act must be sufficiently specific for the agency to be able to search for responsive records.

On Oct. 10, 2016, the office of Attorney General Andy Beshear issued an opinion in the appeal of In re: Matthew Pendley/Division of Probation and Parole, 16-ORD-221.

Pendley, an inmate, stated he requested records on June 14 about documents relating to his parole, including notes. He appealed on Aug. 30, after not hearing anything from the Division of Probation and Parole.

Upon appeal, the division responded that it did not receive the request on June 14 and only became aware of the request after the appeal.

The division also provided Pendley with two responsive documents in a Sept. 16 letter, but denied other parts of the request as exempt under KRS 61.878(l)(1) and KRS 439.501. It was also denied because of the “any and all records” wording, as it was too broad in nature, but the division requested Pendley amend his request to describe the documents he wanted with specificity.

Beshear found that because the request did not get to the requester until after the appeal, it did not violate the timely response requirement. It also properly cited the exceptions that documents could be withheld by and clearly explained the decision.

Beshear also affirmed the denial of parole compliance notes and officer notes because of KRS 439.510, which states information obtained in the discharge of official duty by probation or parole officers is privileged and not subject to disclosure.

Lastly, Pendley must be more specific in relation to the documents he is requesting with regard to his parole.

Therefore, the division did not violation the Open Records Act.

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