May 10, 1994
IN RE: Frank Derossett/Floyd Circuit Court
OPEN RECORDS DECISION
This appeal originated in a request for records submitted by Mr. Frank Derossett, an inmate at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex, to the Floyd Circuit Court. Mr. Derossett requested a copy or copies of his trial transcript, and was furnished with copies at a cost of $2.00 per page for the original, and $1.00 per page for two additional copies. He complains that this is an excessive copying fee in view of his limited financial resources. Mr. Derossett asks that this Office review the circuit court's action in light of our previous decisions that $1.00 per page is an excessive copying fee. It is the opinion of this Office that the records requested by Mr. Derossett are beyond the purview of the Open Records Law, and that the Floyd Circuit Court is not required to comply with the "reasonable fee" provision of that law. KRS 61.874(2).
KRS 61.878(1)(k) excludes from the application of the Open Records Act "[p]ublic records or information the disclosure of which is prohibited or restricted or otherwise made confidential by enactment of the General Assembly." This provision, when read in tandem with KRS 26A.200, has been construed to exempt court records from the mandatory disclosure
provisions of the Act. KRS 26A.200 provides, in part, that all records which are made by or generated for or received by any agency of the Court of Justice, or by any other court, agency, or officer responsible to the Court, are the property of the Court, and are subject to the control of the Supreme Court. Thus, court records enjoy a special status, and are placed
under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Court. OAG 78-262; OAG 85-9; OAG 87-53; OAG 90-4.
KRS 26A.220 provides:
All public officers, public agencies, or other persons having custody, control or possession of court records by statute or otherwise shall be subject to the direction of the Supreme Court with regard to such records and no such officer, agency, or person shall fail to comply with any rule, regulation, standard, procedure, or order issued by the Chief Justice or his designee.
In Ex Parte Farley, Ky., 570 S.W.2d 617, 624 (1978), the Kentucky Supreme Court observed:
On its face, the Open Records Law, KRS 61.870 - 61.884, incl. (Ch. 273, Acts, of 1976), appears to apply. Whether its provisions conflict with or are harmonious with KRS 26A.200 - 26A.220, incl. (Ch. 22, Acts of 1976 Ex. Sess.), we need not decide, because we are firmly of the opinion that the custody and control of the records generated by the courts in the course of their work are inseparable from the judicial function itself, and are not subject to statutory regulation.
This opinion establishes beyond any doubt that the General Assembly has placed in the hands of the Chief Justice the handling and regulation of the records of the court.
The record requested by Mr. Derossett is clearly a court record, and is therefore not subject to the "reasonable fee" provision found at KRS 61.874(2). We note, however, that KRS 23A.205(3)(b), which has been cited by the Administrative Office of the Courts as the controlling provision, sets a fifteen cent per page copying fee for documents generated by or for the circuit courts in criminal matters. Under this statute, the copying charge that was imposed on Mr. Derossett appears to be excessive. We urge the Floyd Circuit Court to consult the statute, or the Administrative Office of the Courts, to determine if its actions were consistent with the Court's policies.
Mr. Derossett may challenge this decision by initiating action in the appropriate circuit court. Pursuant to KRS 61.880(3), the Attorney General should be notified of any action in circuit court, but should not be named as a party in that action or in any subsequent proceedings.
AMYE B. MAJORS
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Floyd Circuit Court Clerk
Floyd County Courthouse
Prestonsburg, KY 41653
Mr. Frank Derossett, #111497
Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex
P. O. Box 636
West Liberty, KY 41472