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First page of 22-ORD-268

Louisville Metro Government is the subject of a second major adverse open records decision — in less than six months — critical of its handling of a series of open records requests. 

This time the requests -- seven in all -- were submitted to Louisville Metro Government by Leo Weekly staff writer, Josh Wood, for "records related to various investigations conducted by the Public Integrity Unit, including copies of any associated video footage."

Louisville Metro issued, in essence, the same boilerplate response to Wood's requests: "Due to the large volume of pending video requests, please allow up to at least 6 months for [Metro] to prepare and provide these records."

Metro reserved the option to notify Wood if the video recordings "become available earlier.”

In 22-ORD-268, issued on December 15, the Attorney General determined that Louisville Metro "violated the Open Records Act when it failed to respond within five business days to three of seven requests it received, and when it invoked KRS 61.872(5) seven times to delay inspection of records, without either notifying the requester of the earliest date on which records would be available or giving a detailed explanation of the cause of the claimed delay."

The decision, which is long on facts and short on legal analysis, gives no indication whether Louisville Metro defended its actions, short of again referencing its "large backlog."

The Attorney General rejected this defense in 22-ORD-168, expressing there, as here, sympathy "for Metro's situation," but reminding the agency that it "has no discretion to excuse violations of the Act" and citing the earlier open records decision.

The Attorney General issued 22-ORD-168 on August 8. Some of Wood’s requests were submitted two months before the Attorney General’s decision. Some were submitted two months after the decision. 

Louisville Metro’s handling of the latter requests show no real improvement. 

An appeal of this week’s Attorney General’s decision would be the height of folly. Not only is Thursday’s open records decision entirely correct, but an appeal would confirm a lack of good faith which critics have long suspected. 

And it would bequeath to the new mayor and his administration the defense of a legally indefensible position.

Whether it will expedite Wood’s receipt of responsive video is a different matter.


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