NOT TO BE PUBLISHED
In re: James Whitehead/Administrative Office of the Courts
This matter comes to the Attorney General as an appeal by James
Whitehead in connection with his attempt to secure copies of documents
allegedly in the possession of a court reporter for the Green
In a letter dated June 17, 1997, addressed to Lynn Ballard, Court
Reporter for the Green Circuit Court, and designated as a request
under the Open Records Act, Mr. Whitehead asked the court reporter
for copies of various documents.
Mr. Whitehead's letter of appeal, received by this office on
July 3, 1997, stated that he had not received a reply of any kind
from the court reporter. He requested that this office grant
the relief to which he is entitled.
Upon receipt of this office's "Notification to Agency of
Receipt of Open Records Appeal," Sara Boswell Dent, Staff
Attorney for the Administrative Office of the Courts, submitted
a response. She stated that on the basis of the case of Ex
Parte Farley, Ky., 570 SW2d 617 (1978); KRS 26A.200 and KRS
26A.220; and several previously issued opinions and decisions
of this office, the records of the court are not subject to the
provisions of the Open Records Act. Ms. Dent further said that
even if the courts were subject to the Open Records Act, there
is no record to copy as no transcription has ever been made a
part of the court record relative to the proceedings identified
by Mr. Whitehead.
This office has consistently recognized that records of the courts
are not governed by the Open Records Act. See York v. Commonwealth,
Ky.App., 815 S.W.2d 415 (1991) and Ex Parte Farley, Ky.,
570 S.W.2d 617 (1978). At page 624 of its opinion in Ex Parte
Farley, the court said in part:
On its face, the Open Records Law, KRS 61.870-61.884, incl. (ch.
273, Acts of 1976), appears to apply. Whether its provisions
conflict with or are harmonious with KRS 26A.200-26A.220, incl.
(ch. 22, Acts of 1976 Ex Sess.), we need not decide, because we
are firmly of the opinion that the custody and control of the
records generated by the courts in the course of their work are
inseparable from the judicial function itself and are not subject
to statutory regulation.
Previously issued decisions of this office concluding that records
of the courts are not governed by the Open Records Act include
96-ORD-124, 95-ORD-89, 95-ORD-51, and 95-ORD-31, copies of which
KRS 26A.200, relative to court records, provides as follows:
See also KRS 26A.220 pertaining to the Supreme Court's supervision
and control of records of the court.
It is, therefore, the decision of the Attorney General that neither
the Administrative Office of the Courts nor the court reporter
for the Green Circuit Court has violated the Open Records Act
as records of the courts are not subject to the terms and provisions
of that 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.
Thomas R. Emerson
Assistant Attorney General
Copies of this decision
have been distributed to:
James Whitehead #102667
Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex
P.O. Box 636 D#1-CL-13
West Liberty KY 41472
Sara Boswell Dent
Administrative Office of the Courts
100 Millcreek Park
Frankfort KY 40601-9230
Green Circuit Court Reporter
203 W. Court Street
Greensburg KY 42743