May 13, 1997

In re: Steve Williamson/Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center

Open Records Decision

The question presented in this appeal is whether Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center violated provisions of the Open Records Act in responding to Steve Williamson's March 27, 1997, request for copies of various records pertaining to an incident at KCPC which occurred on September 7, 1989. On April 28, 1997, John H. Walker, assistant counsel for the Cabinet for Health Services, responded to Mr. Williamson's request by releasing copies of all records in KCPC's custody relating to the incident. Mr. Walker explained that the home address, social security number, home telephone number, and names and birthdates of family members of the correctional officers involved in the incident were deleted pursuant to KRS 61.878(1)(a) and 93-ORD-118. It is the opinion of this office that although KCPC's response was untimely, it otherwise complied with the Act by releasing all nonexempt records, or portions of records, which satisfied Mr. Williamson's request.

KRS 61.880(1) contains 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.

As noted, Mr. Williamson's request was submitted on March 27, 1997. KCPC responded through the Cabinet for Health Services on April 21, advising him that his request had been misdirected, but that the requested records, which are eight years old, were being assembled, and would be released to him within ten business days. These records were sent to Mr. Williamson on April 28, some twenty-one business days after his request was submitted. To the extent that KCPC did not respond in writing and within three business days to Mr. Williamson's request, its response violated the Open Records Act. This violation is mitigated by the fact that the request was apparently misdirected at KCPC, and did not reach the Cabinet for Health Services until shortly before Mr. Walker's response was issued. KCPC and the Cabinet may, however, wish to evaluate their policies relating to open records requests to insure that future delays are avoided.

We affirm KCPC's decision to withhold those portions of the records containing the home addresses, social security numbers, home telephone numbers, and names and birthdates of family members of the correctional officers involved in the incident. As Mr. Walker notes, this decision finds support in a number of opinions of this office holding that a public employee is entitled to privacy in matters unrelated to his employment. See, e.g., OAG 87-37, p. 4 (holding that "a governmental employee is entitled to privacy as far as his personal life and off duty activities are concerned"); compare, OAG 76-717, p. 1 (holding that "the public is entitled to know the name, position, work station and salary of state employees . . . since state employees are carrying on the public's business at public expense"). While the particular decision cited by Mr. Walker has no bearing on the particular issue raised by KCPC's partial denial of Mr. Williamson's request, there are numerous opinions of this office supporting this position.

In summary, we find that although KCPC's response was untimely, it was in all other respects consistent with the provisions of the Open Records Act.

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:

Steven Ray Williamson


Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex

P. O. Box 636

West Liberty KY 41472

John H. Walker

Assistant Counsel

Cabinet for Health Services

275 East Main Street - 4 West

Frankfort KY 40601