The Barren County Fiscal Court will not be held in contempt in its open records case against the Glasgow Daily Times, but it will likely be responsible for paying the newspaper’s legal fees if an appeal is unsuccessful.
Barren County Circuit Court Judge Phil Patton entered an order Friday regarding contempt, costs and attorney fees in the ongoing open records case between the fiscal court and the Daily Times. The Daily Times filed a motion in September that called for the fiscal court to be found in contempt for failing to act on Patton’s Aug. 16 order, which instructed the county to release investigative jail records compiled by private investigator Michael J. Ober. Additionally, the motion asked the circuit court to find the county willful in its continued denial of access to the jail report and responsible for paying the newspaper’s legal fees.
The case moved to Patton’s court after the Kentucky Attorney General ruled the fiscal court violated open records law when it denied the Daily Times access to Mike Ober’s jail report, and the fiscal court appealed the attorney general’s decision. Patton oversaw a trial in his court and then ruled in agreement with the attorney general, that the county had violated the law even if did not have possession of Ober’s documents. Patton’s ruling was entered on Aug. 16, and gave the fiscal court five days from the “finality” of his decision to release the records to the Daily Times, with or without legal redactions. On Sept. 10, the fiscal court filed an appeal to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, but counsel for the Daily Times filed a motion to find the fiscal court in contempt for not pursuing any action with the investigation records.
In the Oct. 5 order, Patton said the fiscal court did have 30 days to file an appeal, and that appeal stayed his earlier ruling. Patton did not find the fiscal court in contempt.
“The directive of this court that the fiscal court comply with the Open Records Act and release the records to the Glasgow Daily Times awaits the decision of the Kentucky Court of Appeals,” Patton wrote. “Therefore, the motion to hold the plaintiff in contempt at this time is denied.”
For the full story, see the print or e-edition of the Glasgow Daily Times.