Public records can provide a wealth of information about the actions of government and other public agencies. These records help provide transparency about what they’re doing.
If you’re seeking information that’s public record, you can file a request to get the information. Let’s go over how to make a public records request in Kentucky.
Public Records and the Open Records Act
The Open Records Act establishes a right of access to public records. This came into law in 1976. These records can be stored digitally or on paper. They are open for the public to review.
This act applies to state and local government agencies’ public records. Someone could seek information on the following:
- State and local government departments
- School district boards
- County and city government
There are some exceptions to this rule. The Open Records Act has 14 exemptions that would prevent access to the records. Some of them include personal information that would bring about an invasion of privacy, records that were confidentially disclosed to an agency for scientific research, records that provide the possible location of a business or industry where there wasn’t public disclosure about the interest of their location, and more.
When you’re looking for information, there’s a process you need to follow to access it. Kentucky details what you have to do to make a request.
Making a Public Records Request in Kentucky
When you’re making a request, you have to send a written request to the Official Custodian of Records. If you email a request, it will likely not be accepted. The request should include the following:
- Details about the records you’re requesting. Include information like names, dates, and location.
- Your signature and printed name.
- Contact information like address and phone number.
You can mail your request, fax, or deliver it in person. According to the Kentucky Open Records Act, you should have a response within three business days. If there is an issue with the request that will mean a longer wait time, you should be notified.
If you’re wondering about a template to help make your request, The National Freedom of Information Coalition has this sample request for Kentucky.
There may be a situation where a public agency denies the request for public records. If this happens to you, there are actions you can take. You can file an appeal with the Attorney General. They will review the agency. If you’re filing an appeal, it should include:
- A letter describing that the denial has happened
- A copy of your written request
- A copy of the agency’s denial, if you have one.
While there are some exceptions, it’s also possible for you to file an appeal in circuit court. Those who cannot do this are inmates in a jail or correctional facility.
The Attorney General will review the appeal and may look further into documentation from the agency. They’ll determine whether or not the agency is in violation of the Open Records Act. The burden of proof is on the agency.
When the Attorney General has a decision, the agency and the requester will both get a copy of the decision. This should be issued within 20 days, not including weekends or holidays. If an extension is needed, it will be extended to thirty days.
But this isn’t the last step. The requester and the agency can appeal the Attorney General’s decision. They have thirty days to do so. This needs to be done in the circuit court of the county where the agency does business or is the location of the record.
If the court is in favor of the requester, then they have determined the agency willfully withheld information. There are criminal penalties for public officials who conceal or destroy records in violation of the Open Records Act.
The Law Office of Todd Burris Can Help You
If you’ve made a public records request in Kentucky and it was denied, it can be disheartening. You can have experienced representation on your side to help you navigate your appeal. A personal injury lawyer from the Law Office of Todd Burris will look into the denied request and help you build a strong appeal.
Our lawyers have years of experience in helping clients. We’ll make sure everything is filed properly and given to the proper channels. Your representation will do everything possible for you to have a successful outcome and get the public records you requested. Get in touch with our office today so we can discuss your options.