June 12, 1997

In re: Bob Jones/Department for Social Services, Cabinet for Families and Children

Open Records Decision

This matter comes to the Attorney General on appeal from the response of the Department for Social Services, Cabinet for Families and Children, to the May 8, 1997 open records request of Mr. Bob Jones to inspect copies of the following records:

All records, correspondence, notes, reports, evaluations, etc. pertaining to Adult Services contact with Lucille Jones at the Markie Cancer Center of the University of Kentucky starting at Feb 26, 1997 thru.

By letter dated May 13, 1997, Ms. Elaine Campbell, Records Section Supervisor for the Department, responded to Mr. Jones's request, stating:

This correspondence is in response to your request for information concerning the above person. The material will be forwarded to this office, from our Lexington office, for reviewing and redacting according to the statute. Prior to providing any information to you and pursuant to KRS 61.878(1)(l) and KRS 194.060(1), I will need a copy of your appointment as executor of Ms. Lucille Jones' estate or a court order. KRS 61.878(1)(l) provides:

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

KRS 194.060(1) provides:

. . . All records and reports of the cabinet, which directly or indirectly identify a client or patient or former client or patient, are confidential and may be disclosed only with the consent of the person identified or his guardian, if any, shall give his consent;

Therefore, to satisfy the requirements of KRS 194.060, we will need a copy of the court appointment of an executor who is to administer Ms. Lucille Jones' estate, or a court order, so that we may release these confidential records.

Mr. Jones's letter of appeal also indicates that, in addition to his request for the Department's records relating to Lucille Jones, he has also made another request for records relating to a review by the Department of actions of two of its social workers in regards to Lucille Jones. However, Mr. Jones did not provide this office with either a copy of his written request to the Department for records relating to the review or the agency's written denial of this request.

40 KAR 1:030, Section 1, provides that the Attorney General shall not consider an open records appeal that fails to conform to KRS 61.880(2), which requires the submission of a copy of the written request to the public agency and the public agency's written denial, if the agency provided a denial. Thus, Mr. Jones's appeal as to this second issue is procedurally deficient and not properly perfected. Accordingly, it will not be considered in this appeal.

The issue presented in this appeal is whether the Department's response to Mr. Jones's request for agency records related to Lucille Jones was consistent with the Open Records Act. For the reasons which follow, we conclude that the Department properly denied the request under authority of the exceptions to disclosure cited in its response.

KRS 194.060(1) requires the Department to protect the confidential nature of all records which directly of indirectly identify a client or patient or a former client or patient of the Cabinet and ensure that these records are not disclosed to any person except as, and insofar as, the person identified in the records or his or her guardian has given consent to, or a court order authorizes, the release or disclosure of the records. 96-ORD-14; 93-ORD-78.

Ms. Campbell, in her response, informed Mr. Jones that to satisfy the requirements of KRS 194.060, the Department would need a copy of the court appointment of the executor who was to administer Ms. Lucille Jones's estate and who would give consent to the release of the confidential records, or a court order, so that it could release the records pertaining to Ms. Jones. Mr. Jones failed to show that his request met any of these exceptions.

Accordingly, we conclude that the Department's response denying access to the requested records until one of the above requirements for disclosure has been met was consistent and in accordance with the requirements of KRS 61.878(1)(l) and KRS 194.060(1).

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

James M. Ringo

Assistant Attorney General


Distributed to:

Bob Jones


The Lucille Jones Foundation

440 Locust Avenue

Lexington KY 40505

Elaine Campbell

Records Section Supervisor

Department for Social Services

Cabinet for Families and Children

275 East Main

Frankfort KY 40601