June 1, 1995

In re: P. Kimberly Watson/Kentucky State Police


This matter comes to the Attorney General on appeal from the Kentucky State Police's denial of Ms. P. Kimberly Watson's request, dated March 25, 1995, to inspect "any investigative reports, memos, witness statements or any other materials contained in the investigative files" relating to the shooting of Kentucky State Trooper David Ross.

By letter dated March 27, 1995, Ms. Diane H. Smith, Official Custodian of Records, Kentucky State Police, denied Ms. Watson's request, stating that Kentucky State Police case #14-93-1174, concerning the shooting of Trooper David Ross, was still considered active by the agency. As such, Ms. Smith, relying upon KRS 61.878(1)(l) and KRS 17.150(2), stated the records requested were part of an open case and, therefore, exempt from public inspection.

In her letter of appeal, Ms. Watson states that her law office represents an insurance company and it is important to that representation to review the requested investigative records to determine what actually occurred on the date of the shooting in question.

For the reasons which follow, it is the decision of this office that the Kentucky State Police acted consistently with the Open Records Act in denying access to the requested records.

KRS 61.878(1)(l) provides in pertinent part:

The following public records are excluded from the application of KRS 61.870 to 61.884 and shall be subject to inspection only upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction . . .

(l) Public records or information the disclosure of which is prohibited or restricted or otherwise made confidential by enactment of the General Assembly.

KRS 17.150(2) provides for the nondisclosure of intelligence and investigative reports maintained by criminal justice agencies prior to the completion of the prosecution or the decision not to prosecute has been made.

This office has stated in numerous past opinions that a Kentucky State Police case file is not open for inspection while the investigation is ongoing. 95-ORD-15, 93-ORD-98, OAG 91-8, and OAG 90-143.

Accordingly, it is the decision of this office that Ms. Smith properly denied Ms. Watson's request for the Kentucky State Police's investigative file in this matter on the basis that the investigation of the shooting incident is still open. The agency's denial is in accord and consistent with KRS 61.878(1)(l) and KRS 17.150(2).

Once the investigation and legal action have been completed or a decision has been made to take no legal action, the records requested will be subject to public inspection unless excluded by another statutory exception to the right of public inspection. OAG 90-143.

Ms. Watson 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 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.






Distributed to:

Ms. Diane H. Smith

Official Custodian of the Records

Kentucky State Police

919 Versailles Road

Frankfort, KY 40601

Ms. P. Kimberly Watson

Martin, Picklesimer, Justice & Vincent

431 Sixteenth Street

P.O. Box 2528

Ashland, KY 41105-2528