NOT TO BE PUBLISHED
November 21, 1994
IN RE: Michal Morford/University of Kentucky
OPEN RECORDS DECISION
This matter comes to the Attorney General as an appeal by Michal Morford, Ph.D., as a result of the denial of his request for access to documents by the University of Kentucky.
This office has not been provided with a copy of the request letter filed by Dr. Morford with the University of Kentucky but the essential parts of that letter were set forth in the response sent to Dr. Morford by the University.
George J. DeBin, Official Records Custodian, responded to Dr. Morford in a letter dated September 6, 1994. Mr. DeBin said that the request involved settlement agreements pertaining to Magdalena Jaszczak vs. University of Kentucky Medical Center and the University of Kentucky and Irma Williams vs. University of Kentucky Medical Center and the University of Kentucky.
Mr. DeBin denied the request by referring to an attached copy of an order of the Fayette Circuit Court, Sixth Division, dated August 1, 1994, in the cases of Irma Williams and Magdalena Jaszczak vs. University of Kentucky. The "Agreed Order of Confidentiality" provided in part that "any and all agreements, resolutions, or related information, shall remain completely confidential" and it was signed by the circuit court judge.
In connection with the disclosure of records placed under a court order of confidentiality this office said in part in OAG 92-126, copy enclosed, at page four, as follows:
Although this Office has consistently recognized that records reflecting settlements of civil suits by public
agencies are subject to full disclosure, OAG 78-35; OAG 88-43; OAG 90-36; OAG 91-20; OAG 92-17, we have also recognized that public records which have been placed under a court ordered seal of confidentiality may not be disseminated to the public. OAG 80-353; OAG 89-22; OAG 91-121. In OAG 89-22, at p. 3, we reasoned that if an agency is a party to the litigation, and the required documents come within the purview of the protective order, the agency and its employees 'may be in contempt of court and subject to other civil liability if they release the documents in question.'
That same prior opinion of this office further noted that the Open Records Act in no way supersedes an order entered by a court of competent jurisdiction when a public agency is properly before the court as a party to the litigation. The entry of an order of confidentiality by the court removes a document covered by that order from the terms and provisions of the Open Records Act relative to the accessibility of otherwise public documents. See also OAG 89-22, OAG 92-16, and OAG 92-119, copies of which are enclosed.
It is, therefore, the decision of the Attorney General that the University of Kentucky is required to adhere to the "Agreed Order of Confidentiality" of the Fayette Circuit Court out of deference to the judicial process and the records requested cannot be made available for inspection and copying at this time.
The appealing party, Michal Morford, may challenge this decision by initiating action in the appropriate circuit court pursuant to KRS 61.880(5) and KRS 61.882. Pursuant to KRS 61.880(3), the Attorney General shall be notified of any action filed in the circuit court, but he shall not be named as a party in that action or in any subsequent proceedings.
Thomas R. Emerson
Assistant Attorney General
Copies of this decision
have been mailed to:
Michal Morford, Ph.D.
246 N. Pin Oak
Lexington, KY 40503
George J. DeBin
Official Records Custodian
University of Kentucky
11 Administration Building
Lexington, KY 40506-0032