Barren appeals, continues to resist records request


Barren Co Court House

 

Two attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division disclosed in court filings last month the existence of a federal criminal investigation into allegations of civil rights violations at the jail.

By JUSTIN STORY The Daily News jstory@bgdailynews.com/

The Barren County Fiscal Court will continue to fight an open records request relating to an investigation of Barren County Corrections Center.

With a filing of a notice of appeal Monday, the Fiscal Court has asked the Kentucky Court of Appeals to hear its case against the Glasgow Daily Times, which had filed an open records request for the full report produced by private investigator Michael Ober, who was hired by the Fiscal Court for $3,500 to investigate allegations of improper behavior by jail employees.

Ober delivered a summary of his findings at a Fiscal Court meeting in May, at which point the court voted to turn his full investigation over to the FBI, which had been conducting a parallel investigation at the jail.

Soon after that meeting, the newspaper filed an open records request for Ober’s full report “whether written or stored electronically.”

The county declined the request, precipitating a legal battle that has resulted in rulings in favor of the newspaper by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office in June and by Barren Circuit Judge Phil Patton last month.

The newspaper argues that because Ober was hired by the county and paid for with taxpayer funding, his work is a public record and should be available to the public.

Fiscal Court disagrees, asserting that the county has not had the full report in its possession and would be subject to undue hardship in its efforts to obtain the report from Ober.

The county also argues that personal privacy concerns should make the records exempt from release and that the information represented the records of a law enforcement agency compiled as part of an ongoing investigation.

Two attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division disclosed in court filings last month the existence of a federal criminal investigation into allegations of civil rights violations at the jail.

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