May 4, 1995

In re: Steven Troy Gordon/Lee Adjustment Center


This appeal originated in the submission of a request to inspect public records by Mr. Steven Troy Gordon, an inmate at Lee Adjustment Center, to the Center's Records Office, Ms. Tracy Brewer. Those records are identified as:

Documents of my Legal Mail Being Open between August, September, October of 1994 while I was in the South Dorm Bed # D-8.

Mr. Gordon also requested a copy of his "final sentencing ordering paper case number CR 041." In an undated response Ms. Brewer advised:

??? Legal Mail ??? have no idea what you are talking about. Copy of final judgement is attached.

She did not elaborate.

On February 18, 1995, Mr. Gordon initiated an open records appeal. Among the materials he attached to his appeal is a form captioned "Privileged Mail Log," LAC 16-C4-01. This document has been completely redacted with the exception of one entry which appears on the tenth and eleventh lines, and appears thus:


10/15/94 1810 Steven Troy Gordon 116523 Office of the Inquiry Tribunal,

Kentucky Bar Association, 514 West Main Street

Frankfort, KY 40601

Mial [sic] was opened c/o Jan Combs

Mr. Gordon asserts that the Acting Warden at Lee Adjustment Center, Mr. Jerry Ballard, refuses to allow him access to copies of his other "Legal Mail Being Opened." He does not explain how he obtained a copy of the "Privileged Mail Log," which appears to be representative of the type of document he seeks.

We are asked to determine whether the Lee Adjustment Center violated the Open Records Act in responding to Mr. Gordon's request. For the reasons set forth below, we conclude that the Center substantially complied with the Act.

Mr. Gordon requested copies of his "Legal Mail Being Open" for a three month period in 1994. The documents he apparently sought were the relevant portions of the "Privileged Mail Log" for the same period. Ms. Brewer was unable to ascertain from his description the specific records he wished to inspect.

This office has previously recognized that although the purpose and intent of the Open Records Act is to permit the "free and open examination of public records . . . ," this right of access is not absolute. KRS 61.882(4). As a precondition to inspection, a requesting party must identify with "reasonable particularity" those documents which he wishes to review. OAG 89-81; OAG 91-58. Thus, in a series of opinions, we have held that "[b]lanket requests for information on a particular subject without specifying certain documents need not be honored." OAG 76-375; OAG 83-386; OAG 85-88; OAG 89-8; OAG 89-61; OAG 91-58. Elaborating on this position, in OAG 89-8, at p. 2, we observed:

The Open Records Act provides in part in KRS 61.872(1) that all public records, with certain exceptions, shall be open for public inspection. While persons will obviously acquire information from these records, the primary purpose of the Act is making records available for public inspection. The Act does not require a public agency to provide information beyond that which is made available from permitting access to the public documents. Thus, if the agency is to provide access to public documents the person seeking to inspect those documents must identify them with sufficient clarity to enable the public agency to locate and make them available.

If a requester cannot describe the documents he wishes to inspect with sufficient specificity there is no requirement that the public agency conduct a search for such material. OAG 84-342; OAG 89-8.

Because Mr. Gordon did not identify the public records which he wished to inspect with sufficient specificity, the Center was unable to locate the records and make them available for inspection. He may wish to resubmit his request to the Records Officer, asking for the relevant portions of the "Privileged Mail Log" rather than the "Legal Mail Being Open."

In a conversation with Ms. Brewer on April 20, 1995, this office confirmed that no document exists which is referred to as "Legal Mail Being Open." She added that the "Privileged Mail Log," which Mr. Gordon obtained from another source, was not in her custody. Obviously, however, that document is reposited somewhere within the Lee Adjustment Center, and it is her duty, as records officer, to determine who has custody of the records and furnish Mr. Gordon with the name and location of the custodian. KRS 61.872(4).

Mr. Gordon and the Lee Adjustment Center may challenge this decision by initiating action in the appropriate circuit court. Pursuant to KRS 61.880(3), the Attorney General shall be notified of any action in circuit court, but shall not be named as a party in that action or in any subsequent proceedings.






Distributed to:

Ms. Tracy Brewer

Lee Adjustment Center

P.O. Box 900

Beattyville, KY 41311

Mr. Steven Troy Gordon #116523

Lee Adjustment Center

P.O. Box 900 Bed #J-40

Beattyville, KY 41311