Supreme Court OKs first open-records policy for judicial branch

08/12/2017 12:54 PM

The Kentucky Supreme Court has unanimously approved the first open-records policy for the Administrative Office of the Courts’ administrative records effective Tuesday, the AOC announced in a news release Friday.

The policy requires the AOC to respond to information requests within three days and exempts a number of records, such as legal research, communications that do not constitute final actions or formal policies, records that would reveal security details or vulnerabilities, and examination materials. Requestors denied access to records can appeal to the chief justice.

“Transparency and accountability are bedrock principles in maintaining trust in state government,” Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. said in a statement. “While the Judicial Branch has long complied with the spirit of the Open Records Act, it was time to formalize our commitment into written policy.”

First Amendment attorney Jon Fleischaker called the Supreme Court’s decision “an important step.”

“By establishing its own policy, the Judicial Branch demonstrates its commitment to transparency while preserving the separation of powers in state government,” Fleischaker said in a statement. “I’ve been looking forward to the day the public has definitive guidance on how to access the court system’s administrative records.”

The AOC will also sell subscriptions to its CourtNet 2.0 system to news outlets beginning Sept. 1, giving media organizations access to criminal and civil court files electronically.

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