November 12, 1996

In re: Linda Carol Linton/Nelson County Judge Executive

Open Records Decision

This appeal originated in a request for documentation or statutes submitted by Linda Carol Linton to the Nelson County Judge Executive on August 19, 1996. Ms. Linton's request was as follows:

Could you please send me a copy of the documentation or advise me of the statute that allows one government agency to SELL government property to another government agency.

Ms. Linton contacted this office on August 27, 1996, advising us that Dean Watts, Nelson County Judge/Executive, had responded to her request by phone stating that he could not locate a statute addressing this issue.

We are asked to determine if the Nelson County Judge Executive violated the provisions of the Open Records Act in responding to Ms. Linton's request. Because it is unclear whether Ms. Linton's original request was submitted under the Open Records Act, we are reluctant to find that the Act was violated.

KRS 61.880 (1) sets forth procedural guidelines for agency response to an open records request. That statute provides:

Each public agency, upon any request for records made under KRS 61.870 to 61.884, shall determine within three (3) days, excepting Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, after the receipt of any such request whether to comply with the request and shall notify in writing the person making the request, within the three (3) day period, of its decision. An agency response denying, in whole or in part, inspection of any record shall include a statement of the specific exception authorizing the withholding of the record and a brief explanation of how the exception applies to the record withheld. The response shall be issued by the official custodian or under his authority, and it shall constitute final agency action.

Although Mr. Watts did respond to Ms. Linton's request, he did not do so within three business days. Moreover, he did not respond to Ms. Linton in writing. If such conduct is deemed a violation of the Act, we believe the violation is mitigated by the ambiguous nature of Ms. Linton's original request. We urge the Nelson County Judge/Executive to review the cited provision to insure that future responses conform to the Open Records Law.

Turning to the substantive issue in this appeal, we find that the Nelson County Judge/ Executive complied with the Open Records Act in responding to Ms. Linton's request. Ms. Linton's request constitutes a request for research to be performed and not a request to produce public records. Mr. Watts did respond to Ms. Linton's request by informing her that he could not locate a statute such as the one she was requesting, even though a response of this kind was not required of him. Open records provisions do not require public agencies to carry out research or compile information to conform to a given request. See OAG 89-45. Thus the County Judge fully discharged his duties under the Act, and in fact, went beyond his duties in attempting to locate a statute which satisfied Ms. Linton's request.

A party aggrieved by this decision may appeal it 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 proceeding.

A. B. Chandler III

Attorney General

Amye L. Bensenhaver

Assistant Attorney General


Distributed to:

Linda Carol Linton

6873 Bloomfield Road

Bardstown, Kentucky 40004-9156

Dean Watts

Nelson County Judge Executive

113 East Stephen Foster Avenue

Bardstown, Kentucky 40004