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Attorney general favors public access to sheriff’s cell phone records

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  1. Freedom of Information

    NMU         KENTUCKY         Freedom of Information         Oct 30, 2000    

Attorney general favors public access to sheriff’s cell phone records

  • The Kentucky attorney general issued a rebuke in the form of an advisory opinion to county officials who denied a reporter’s request for call records.

Kentucky Attorney General Albert Chandler III issued an opinion on Oct. 18 criticizing the Lawrence County sheriff’s department for denying a reporter access to call records for county-owned or leased cell phones.

The sheriff sent Tom Lewis, a reporter on The (Ashland) Daily Independent, a denial letter claiming that the records were not public under a law enforcement records exemption to the state open records law.

The attorney general did not agree with the sheriff’s denial. Chandler decided the records were open under state law because the they documented “the use of public equipment at public expense.” Exempted information under the open records law, such as victim names or the numbers of defendants, could be redacted from the records prior to release, according to the opinion.

Although an attorney general’s opinion is only advisory, one week after the opinion was issued Lawrence County officials had already complied with the attorney general’s decision, according to Lewis.

(Kentucky Attorney General Open Records Decision) CC

© 2000 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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