July 28, 1997

In re: Sam E. Isaacs II/Boyle County Sheriff

Open Records Decision

This is an appeal from the Boyle County Sheriff's response to Sam E. Isaacs II's June 20, 1997, request to inspect and copy records relating to policies and procedures of the sheriff's office, and to Officers Tom B. Young and Jerry T. Young, and their altercation with Mr. Isaacs's client Ronnie Rousey. The question presented in this appeal is whether the sheriff violated the Open Records Act in his response to Mr. Isaacs's request. For the reasons which follow, we find that although the sheriff's original response was defective, this defect was cured in subsequent correspondence with Mr. Isaacs.

In his June 25 response, Sheriff Karl Luttrell provided Mr. Isaacs with records and information that were responsive to four of his nine requests, specifically those dealing with policies and procedures of the Boyle County Sheriff's office. Sheriff Luttrell denied Mr. Isaacs's request for records pertaining to Officers Tom B. Young and Jerry T. Young, and their altercation with Ronnie Rousey, advising him that these records would "be held exempt due to pending criminal charges." Sheriff Luttrell did not elaborate at that time. However, in a response issued after Mr. Isaacs initiated this appeal, Sheriff Luttrell complied with the remainder of his requests by written answer and the release of case number 97-013, relating to Mr. Rousey.

KRS 61.880(1) establishes 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.

Because the Boyle County Sheriff failed to include a statement of the specific exception authorizing the withholding of records relating to Officers Tom Young and Jerry Young, and their altercation with Ronnie Rousey, and briefly explain how the exception applies to the records withheld, his response was defective. We urge Sheriff Luttrell to review the cited provision to insure that future responses conform to the Open Records Act.

In his subsequent response, Sheriff Luttrell provided written answers to two of the five remaining requests. With respect to two of the remaining requests, he advised that there are no written complaints or disciplinary actions against officers Young and Young, nor are there any tests or examinations for employment relating to these officers. In response to the fifth request, he furnished Mr. Isaacs with a copy of the offense report involving Mr. Rousey.

The Boyle County Sheriff having made complete disclosure of all existing records which satisfy Mr. Isaacs's request, we find that the defect appearing in his original response has been cured and the violation of the Open Records Act mitigated.

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 toKRS 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:

Sam E. Isaacs, II

Reinhardt, Morgan, Arnold & Isaacs

Suite 910

250 West Main Street

Lexington KY 40507

Karl Luttrell

Boyle County Sheriff

103 Courthouse

321 W. Main Street

Danville KY 40422