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Appointments calendar exempt from disclosure under open records

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Appointments calendar exempt from disclosure under open records04/04/95 act KENTUCKY--Gov. Brereton Jones' appointments calendar is exempt from disclosure as a…

Appointments calendar exempt from disclosure under open records

04/04/95

act

KENTUCKY–Gov. Brereton Jones’ appointments calendar is exempt from disclosure as a “draft,” according to the Kentucky Court of Appeals in Frankfort. The court in a divided opinion in late March rejected the open records requests of several Kentucky newspapers, the Associated Press and the state’s Press Association for the calendar.

Judge Charles Lester speculated that if private meetings between the governor and politically controversial groups were disclosed, those meetings might never occur.

“Although the raw material in the Governor’s appointment calendars and schedules is factual, its essence is deliberative,” he said. Therefore, they may be withheld under the open records act exemption protecting preliminary drafts, notes and correspondence with private individuals, he said.

Citing Shakespeare’s Polonius, Lester advised that policymakers should “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.” The public’s interest in having policymakers seek a broad array of opinions without inhibition outweighs any public interest in disclosure of the Governor’s itinerary, he said.

In late 1992 and early 1993 reporters filed requests under the state open records act for entries on the governor’s appointment calendar regarding official duties. They had questioned the governor, who owns a horse farm and another business, about the time he spent on gubernatorial duties. The governor’s office denied the request and the Attorney General upheld the denial in March 1993.

The media parties sued in April 1993 in Franklin Circuit Court in Frankfort, and when that court ruled for the governor in February 1994, they appealed to the Court of Appeals in Frankfort.

At the appeals court a second judge wrote that the exemption for preliminary drafts applied because the appointment calendar was not an accurate log of what actually occurred. A third judge dissented but wrote no opinion. The media have not decided whether to appeal. (Courier Journal v. Jones; Media Counsel: Jon Fleischaker, Louisville)